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Biden blames Delta variant for 'huge miss' on jobs report
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Biden blames Delta variant for 'huge miss' on jobs report

President Joe Biden blamed the Delta variant of the coronavirus for the nation's disappointing economic performance in remarks on the August jobs report released Friday. The president insisted that the economy remains "durable and strong," though he acknowledged that his administration wanted to see a "larger number" of new jobs created.

"While I know some wanted to see a larger number today, and so did I, what we've seen this year is the continued growth, month after month, in job creation," Biden said at the White House.

"It's not just that I've added more jobs than in the first year of any president; it's that we've added jobs in every single one of my first seven job reports. And wages are going up," he added.

The economy added only 235,000 jobs in August, according to a report released by the Department of Labor. The number was described as a "huge disappointment" by CNBC, as economists had hoped for a report closer to 720,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate went down slightly from 5.4% to 5.2%.

The report indicates a massive slowdown in hiring after 962,000 jobs were added in June and 1.05 million were added in July.

Commentators called the number a big "miss" for Biden.

University of Michigan economist and former Obama administration official Betsey Stevenson noted that the "most telling number" in the jobs report was the number of people who don't have a job but want one falling from 6.5 million in July to 5.7 million in August.

What that suggests is hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans have stopped looking for a job., possibly because of fears regarding the coronavirus. In August, 5.6 million people said they were unable to find work because of the pandemic, an increase from 5.2 million in July.

Notably, hiring in the leisure and hospitality sectors — bars, restaurants, travel and hotels — fell to zero as Americans are more reluctant to go out in public because of the virus.

Biden said there was "no question" the Delta variant was the cause of the economic slowdown.

"We need to make more progress in fighting the Delta variant of COVID-19," the president said. "This is a continuing pandemic of the unvaccinated."

He called on Congress to pass his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation spending package to enact the rest of his economic agenda.

"Our country needs these investments," Biden said. "Now we need Congress to finish the job, to come through for the American people and ensure that the economy continues to get strength and stability as we move forward."

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