President Biden did not mention a labor shortage in remarks following the release of a disappointing jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.
Biden blamed lower-than-expected hiring levels on the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus. The Bureau’s report found that the U.S. added just 194,000 jobs in September, compared with the 500,000 expected by economists.
“Remember, today’s report is based on a survey that was taken during the week of September 13…when COVID cases were averaging more than 150,000 per day,” Biden said. “Since then, we’ve seen the daily cases fall by more than one-third, and they’re continuing to trend down.”
Biden also repeatedly stressed that the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent in September, calling a drop in long-term unemployment “great progress.”
“The monthly totals bounce around but if you take a look at the trend, it’s solid,” Biden said. “On average, 600,000 jobs created every month since I took office.”
However, job openings stood at record highs over the summer, with almost 11 million openings in the U.S. at the end of July. Data for job openings in August will be released by the Bureau next week.
The BLS survey began a week after enhanced federal unemployment benefits ended. Enhanced benefits were initially put in place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but some businesses have blamed those benefits for slowing workers’ return to the labor force in 2021.
“Ramped up production may be necessary, but you can’t find the employees to ramp it up,” Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce in Nevada, told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re hearing that from every sector—hospitality and touring, healthcare, you name it. People can’t be found. Everybody’s quick to say, ‘Wow, the economy is rebounding.’ Well, it can’t without human beings.”
The Biden administration also extended a moratorium on renter evictions to most of the U.S. through the end of August, when the Supreme Court struck down the moratorium. Landlords have reported that some renters stopped paying dues during the pandemic.
Around 5 million fewer people are on payrolls as of September 2021 than February 2020, just before the pandemic forced mass closures of businesses across the country.