The White House on Friday said expiring state unemployment benefits haven’t been a driving force in job growth.
“We don’t see any evidence in the available data that some states ending unemployment benefits early had any impact on today’s incredibly strong numbers,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing.
Payroll growth accelerated in July with 943,000 jobs added, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That topped economists’ forecasts for 870,000 jobs.
President Joe Biden on Friday said the report demonstrated that the “Biden plan” was working.
“What is indisputable now is this: The Biden plan is working, the Biden plan produces results, and the Biden plan is moving the country forward,” Biden said.
Twenty-five states led by Republican administrations began cutting federal unemployment benefits of $300 a week in an effort to push people back into the workforce.
At the White House on Friday, Psaki fielded a question seeking to clarify whether the lack of those unemployment benefits were sending the jobs numbers higher.
There’s “no evidence” that’s what’s happening, Psaki said.
“We are seeing strength across the economy and across states and regions, of course,” Psaki said. “But that’s thanks to a number of investments that have helped get people through this difficult time and get them back to work. We know there’s more that needs to happen, but we haven’t seen evidence of that data to date.”
Instead, vaccination rates were leading to higher jobs growth, she said.
Psaki’s comments echoed those made by the labor secretary, Marty Walsh, on Friday. He told Insider the gains were driven by vaccinated workers being able to return to offices across the country.
And some have challenged whether governors had the authority to cancel federal unemployment benefits. In Oklahoma, for example, a judge on Friday granted a preliminary injunction against governor Kevin Stitt, saying he didn’t have the authority to leave the program in June, local news station KOCO reported.
Judge Anthony L. Bonner Jr. on Friday reinstated the $300 payments until the benefits expire on September 6, or whenever he issues a final order, The Oklahoman reported.
A report from the Century Foundation last week predicted that about 7.5 million Americans would lose their unemployment benefits in September. They’d lose the $300 weekly payments, along with other benefits, the research said.
Psaki on Friday said the White House hadn’t made a decision about whether to extend those benefits.
“At this point, they’re expiring at the beginning of September,” she said. “Nothing has changed on that front, but a final decision has not been made.”