President Biden on Friday brushed off a second month of disappointing jobs-growth figures, claiming “monthly totals bounce around” before walking off without taking reporter questions.
Biden spoke about 90 minutes later than scheduled and emphasized that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in September — the lowest since February 2020 — even though economists say that reflects fewer people seeking work.
“Today’s report has the unemployment rate down to 4.8 percent, a significant improvement from when I took office and the sign that our recovery is moving forward,” Biden said.
He added, “The monthly totals bounce around, but if you take a look at the trend, it is solid. On average, 600,000 new jobs created every month since I took office.”
The new report showed the US added just 194,000 jobs in September — far short of economists’ expectations of about 500,000.
The shortfall compounded a hiring slowdown in August, when the US added 366,000 jobs, according to revised figures released Friday — far below economists’ expectations of 720,000.
Biden and Democrats sought to use the disappointing news to promote even more federal stimulus — despite Republicans and business owners across the nation arguing that could reduce incentives to work.
“The jobs numbers also remind us that we have important work ahead of us and important investments we need to make,” Biden said. “We risk losing our edge as a nation if we don’t move.”
But Republicans blamed Biden for the poor jobs figures.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said, ““If this were a football team with this losing record, the coach would be searching for a new job at this point.
“President Biden is now a whopping 944,000 jobs short of what he promised from his last stimulus and worse, has lost the confidence of the American people to lead the economy.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said, “Over 300,000 FEWER jobs created than expected in September – further proof Biden’s economic policies are hurting our country.”
Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, explained the lower unemployment rate, noting that “the declines in the unemployment measures and the participation rate show that the movement of people back to the labor force has paused.”
Harvard economist Jason Fruman tweeted, “Job openings: 11.7m Unemployed: 7.7m The 1.5 openings per unemployed is the highest ever recorded.”
The return to work slowed despite the end of federal supplements last month for people who are unemployed. Some states still have special boosts for people unemployed as the Delta variant of COVID-19 keeps new infections and deaths high.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), like Biden, sought to flip the script on the disappointing data.
Pelosi said that the report showed that Congress must pass a pair of major spending bills branded “Build Back Better” by Biden — including a $1.2 trillion Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill and a pending $3.5 trillion social spending package that faces resistance from centrists.
“The September jobs report is additional proof of the need for Democrats’ jobs-creating Build Back Better agenda,” Pelosi said.
“While historic progress to create jobs, lower unemployment and defeat the pandemic has been forged under President Biden and Congressional Democrats, more must be done to protect families’ financial security now and for generations to come,” she said.