Joe Biden called the November jobs report “grim” and said it shows “there’s no time to lose” for Congress to pass a new COVID relief bill.
Friday’s jobs report raised the odds that Biden would inherit an even weaker labor market next year as the number of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths also reach new highs. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 245,000 in November, a decline from October’s number of 610,000 and well below economists’ estimates.
(Though Newsmax has called several battleground states for Biden following official certification of their vote tallies, it has not yet called the overall election for either man, pending the outcome of the legal challenges.)
The U.S. labor-market rebound slowed markedly in November, indicating the surge in COVID-19 cases is hitting workers and curbing the broader economic recovery.
“It shows an economy that is stalling,” the president-elect said. “But it doesn’t have to stay that way. If we act now, and by now I mean now, we can begin to regain momentum and start to build back a better future. There’s no time to lose.”
Biden acknowledged that the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7%, but added it was “deeply troubling” that the decline was driven by people dropping out of the labor market.
He said he was confident that Congress would pass a “serious package to keep us from going off the edge.” But he also declined to outline the path to that agreement: “The last thing I’m going to do is tell you strategically how I’m going to go about this.”
He did endorse direct payments of $1,200 to individuals but suggested a lesser amount wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. “If you insist on everything, you’re likely to get nothing,” he said.
Biden said he would likely propose “hundreds of billions of dollars” in coronavirus relief next month on top of whatever Congress might provide by year end.
“We’re looking at hundreds of billions of dollars,” Biden told reporters after delivering remarks on the state of the economy. “I think people are going to see the overwhelming necessity.”