President Biden on Friday insisted the American economy is “durable and strong” although the U.S. economy added far fewer jobs than expected in August, blaming the COVID-19 delta variant for the weak jobs numbers.
Hiring slowed sharply in August, adding just 235,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday, vastly missing the 728,000 to 750,000 gain some economists had predicted. It is the fewest number of jobs added to the economy since January. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% from 5.4%.
Mr. Biden acknowledged that the numbers were disappointing, but said the delta variant stalled the nation’s recovery efforts.
“There’s no question the delta variant is why today’s jobs report isn’t stronger. I know people were looking for a higher number,” he said.
The leisure and hospitality industry, which led to job gains during the recovery after being shut down during the pandemic, was not among the top hirers in August, suggesting people delayed travel panels amid the surging delta variant.
Instead, professional and business services, transportation, private education, and manufacturing posted the biggest job gains.
“What we’ve seen this year is the continued growth month after month in job creation,” he said. “It’s not just that I added more jobs than in the first year of any president, it’s that we added jobs in every single one of my first seven jobs reports.”
The economy remains 5.3 million jobs short of where it was in February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy.
Republicans see it differently. In a statement, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the economy is slowing because Mr. Biden‘s policies are starting to stifle growth.
“The latest jobs report is a huge miss and shows Joe Biden continues to squander the economic recovery he inherited,” she said. “Because of Biden‘s failed policies and reckless spending, there are fewer jobs and rising prices for everything from gas to groceries. Americans are being left behind. Meanwhile, in states with Republican leadership, small businesses are hiring and Americans are getting back to work despite the failures of Biden and the Democrats.”
The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Now it is up to the House to take up the debate. Mr. Biden called on the House and Senate to pass both measures.
“This is about long-term prosperity we are talking about,” Mr. Biden said, adding that the measures would create good-paying jobs.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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