WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Joe Biden and economists say the delta variant is responsible for slim gains in the jobs market, with the August report falling far short of projections.
About 235,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists had projected 735,000.
“We have a lot more work to do,” Biden said Friday.
That, he said, starts with slowing the spread of the coronavirus delta variant.
“Still, too many have not gotten vaccinated … and it’s creating a lot of unease in our economy and around our kitchen table,” Biden said. “There’s no question the delta variant is why today’s job report isn’t stronger.”
He also noted not all the data is bad: The federal unemployment rate dropped again to 5.2%, wages are on the rise and the number of people applying for unemployment benefits was down in August.
The Republican National Committee released a statement blaming Biden’s economic policies for the slow hiring and increased inflation rates.
But Bankrate economist Mark Hamrick said there’s little evidence linking recent federal aid to the issues.
“This is really something that’s coming uniquely from Republican quarters and not from economists,” Hamrick said. “We’ve seen no indication that states that opted to end the extended and more generous unemployment benefits … have had a greater increase in employment. It simply hasn’t happened.”
He said the economy can’t outrun the pandemic.
“They are essentially joined at the hips,” he said. “It is also why we continue to have supply chain disruptions around the world.”
Still, he does not expect a double-dip recession.
Biden said he lay out new plans to combat the delta variant next week.