Biden hails March jobs numbers as source of 'hope'
Washington (AFP) –
President Joe Biden on Friday hailed new US jobs figures showing a massive rebound in March as a sign of hope "at long last" for the recovery of an economy devastated by the pandemic.
"We still have a long way to go to get our economy back on track after the worst economic and job crisis in nearly a century," he said in a televised address.
"But my message to the American people is this: Help is here. Opportunity is coming. And at long last, there's hope for so many families."
The economy regained 916,000 jobs last month, the largest increase since August, pushing the unemployment rate down to 6.0 percent from 6.2 percent in February.
Biden gave credit for the encouraging figures to his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the third major relief bill passed by Congress to help consumers and businesses after the Covid-19 crisis caused a massive economic downturn.
"We're going continue to implement that law in the weeks ahead. By April 7, next week, over 130 million households will have gotten their $1,400 per person rescue check," he said.
"Funds are on their way to local communities to put educators, health care workers, home health care aides, police, firefighters, sanitary workers back on the job."
However, even as the economy begins to recover from the Covid-19 shutdowns, employment is still 8.4 million jobs lower than the pre-pandemic peak, the jobs report said.
In addition, there are nearly six million more workers now than before the crisis who are working part time because they cannot find a full time position, or are on the sidelines because they have not been able to find work.
After a slow start, the US vaccination campaign has gathered pace since late January and Biden has promised that 90 percent of America's adults will eligible for a vaccine by April 19.
The president urged Americans to keep up their guard against Covid-19, despite the optimism fueled by the vaccination drive.
"I plead with you. Don't give back the progress we've all fought so hard to achieve... We need to finish this job," he said.
"We need every American to buckle down and keep their guard up in this homestretch."
He implored people to continuing wearing masks, and maintain social distancing and hand washing.
"Get vaccinated when it's your turn. That's how we're going to beat the virus," he added. "Cast off the weight of the pandemic that's holding our economy back."
© 2021 AFP