Commerce Secretary Denies Expanded Unemployment Relief behind Poor Jobs Report

Governor Gina Raimondo, then-President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be secretary of Commerce, speaks at Biden’s transition headquarters in Wilmington, Del., January 8, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

During an appearance on CBS News Face The Nation, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo refuted the notion that the Biden administration’s expansion of unemployment benefits contributed to the poor April jobs report that missed economist expectations by 800,000 jobs.

When host John Dickerson asked whether unemployment relief was hurting the jobs market, Raimondo responded, “There is nothing in the data that would suggest that is the reason people are out of work. ”

“This unemployment insurance has been a lifeline of survival for so many Americans,” she continued.

Dickerson pointed to evidence that unemployment benefits are disrupting jobs growth in states like Rhode Island, where Governor Daniel McKee has pushed for residents to meet certain conditions in order to keep their government assistance.

“There is some anecdotal evidence, and by the way it’s regional,” the secretary noted.

Raimando shared statistics that wages are not rising nationally and that more people have searched for work this month than in the previous month. She reiterated that unemployment relief “doesn’t seem to be the major impediment.”

“The reason people aren’t getting back to work is fear,” Raimando stated.

A March study from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicated that the boost in unemployment benefits was connected with a reduction in job applications, National Review reported.

Republican leaders such as Nebraska senator Ben Sasse have blamed the April jobs underperformance on the administration’s drive for enhanced unemployment assistance.

“We should be clear about the policy failure at work here: There are 7,400,000 jobs open in the US – but fewer than 300,000 people found new work last month,” Sasse said in a statement. “Why? This tragedy is what happens when Washington know-it-alls decide to pretend they’re generous by paying more for unemployment than for work. This obviously hurts our economy, but more precisely this hurts people on every Main Street in the nation.”

The first COVID relief bill, enacted at the beginning of the pandemic, increased unemployment benefits by $600 per week. The subsequent rescue package, passed in a Democratic party-line vote, added a $300-per-week bonus for unemployment insurance.

Raimando concluded the interview by emphasizing the need for major industry and infrastructure investments in semi-conductors, broadband, road, bridges, childcare, and others, which she claimed Biden’s Jobs Plan and Families Plan will provide.

She said that many corporations and their CEOS “knew corporate tax increases were coming” to finance the multi-billion dollar investment plan.

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