Biden Vows To 'act Fast' On US Stimulus Amid Weak January Hiring
Washington, Feb 6 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 6th Feb, 2021 ) :President Joe Biden on Friday seized on feeble US employment data to argue the world's largest economy needs his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, which cleared a key Senate hurdle without support from the Republican opposition.
"I believe the American people are looking right now to their government for help," Biden said after a meeting with top Democratic lawmakers. "So I'm going to act, I'm going to act fast." Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would push for rapid approval of the package.
The House of Representatives approved a budget proposal by a narrow margin on Friday, following Senate Democrats who in the wee hours of the morning won a procedural vote setting the stage for passage of the president's relief bill.
The package includes a host of measures aimed at boosting the recovery, including aid to small businesses and the unemployed, and funds to speed up vaccine distribution to contain the pandemic.
Biden has shrugged off the criticism.
"The way I see it, the biggest risk is not going too big," he said.
But he did have to concede somewhat on issues such as his proposal for a hike in the Federal minimum wage to $15, telling CBS in an interview Friday that the measure likely would not pass.
"I don't think it's going to survive," he admitted.
Nevertheless Biden's efforts received a big endorsement, when IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva offered her support for the plan, and rejected the notion it was excessive.
"The US does have fiscal space to take additional relief and support measures," she told reporters Friday.
And it is "appropriate" to use that firepower "given the exceptional uncertainties, and most importantly, given the fact that there is still a lot of pain for households and businesses.
"Hiring will pick up as restrictions are relaxed but gains will be stronger once the economy can fully reopen," Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics said.
"Until then, generous fiscal support will provide a safety net for households and businesses." The United States last year endured its worst economic contraction since 1946, and the recovery has been uneven, with some sectors like housing bouncing back more quickly while other areas, such as travel and entertainment, are still suffering.
At 61.4 percent, the labor force participation rate in January was at a level not seen since the 1970s, and Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics said adjustments meant to account for holiday-related employment trends made the data appear better than it is.
- Uneven recovery - The number of long-term unemployed people rose to just over four million, or 39.5 percent of all jobless workers, which William Spriggs, chief economist of the AFL-CIO trade union federation, warned was a sign of a persistent employment crisis.
"These show it will be very hard to get the unemployment number down. We need help now to slow that growth," he tweeted.
Job growth was strongest in the business services and private and public education sectors, but continued layoffs in industries like retail trade, health care and especially the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector undercut the gains.
The pain was not spread evenly across the country, with whites and Hispanics seeing their unemployment rates decline, while for Black Americans, the rate fell -- but to a still-high 9.2 percent.