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White House denies COVID-19 unemployment benefits are incentivizing people not to work

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/10/2021 Naomi Lim
Jen Psaki looking at the camera © Provided by Washington Examiner

The White House is denying its unemployment benefits program blunted economic growth last month as it continues dealing with a disappointing April jobs report.

The White House said it believes the number of jobs added to the economy last month fell short of expectations due to a list of other reasons, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.

"We see there being a number of other factors that have a larger impact, including the pace of vaccinations just a month ago, the childcare impacts, the need to get more money out into state and local communities," she said. "So that's where our focus is going to be, and, for us, it's important that we continue to remain solutions-oriented on areas where we feel can be most beneficial to the economy and not be moved by talking points."


The Bureau of Labor Statistics last week reported 266,000 jobs were added to the economy in April, with the country's unemployment rate rising slightly to 6.1%. Economic forecasters had anticipated that the economy would add almost 1 million nonfarm payroll jobs and that the unemployment rate would drop from March’s 6% down to 5.8%.

Psaki also declined to comment Monday on whether the White House was considering diverting money initially earmarked for unemployment benefits to help fund his infrastructure-plus spending proposal.

The White House and key administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, were monitoring economic performance indicators in case inflation was not "transitory," as many aides have signaled, Psaki said.

Some Republican governors announced last week after the jobs report was released that they would clamp down on unemployment benefits. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for instance, said his state would soon require people seeking financial assistance to prove they were looking to be hired.

“The demand is there. Businesses want to hire more people, and I think we can go in that direction very soon," he said.

Arkansas, Montana, and South Carolina are taking similar steps after Congress approved Biden's plan to provide an extra $300 in weekly payments for unemployed workers as part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package.

Biden last week said the coronavirus legislation was only the beginning of his administration's efforts to boost the economy.

"Our actions are starting to work, but the climb is steep, and we still have a long way to go," he said.


Biden is meeting with congressional Republicans this week ahead of his self-imposed Memorial Day deadline for progress to be made on his pitch to spend $2.25 trillion on a mix of soft and hard infrastructure projects. Republicans are opposed to raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% to pay for Biden's ideas, while Democrats are against introducing user fees.

Tags: News, Biden, White House, Unemployment, Coronavirus, Jen Psaki

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: White House denies COVID-19 unemployment benefits are incentivizing people not to work


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