President Biden on Monday appeared to appease some GOP criticisms over the possibility that unemployment benefits are slowing the economic recovery by discouraging a return to work.
The White House said it is directing the Labor Department to work with states on reimposing work-search requirements for Americans collecting unemployment benefits. Labor will also soon issue a letter to “reaffirm” the rules of unemployment to ensure that workers, employers and states understand the rules of the program.
“We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment,” Biden said in remarks in the East Room. “There are a few covid-19-related exceptions. … But otherwise that’s the law.”
The president put the onus on employers who have accepted federal relief to offer good pay, protect workers from the virus and encourage vaccination so Americans feel comfortable taking jobs.
“My expectation is that as our economy comes back, these companies will provide fair wages and safe work environments,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “And if they do, they’ll find plenty of workers.”
As the Friday jobs report indicated unemployment ticked up to 6.1%, Biden downplayed the report and said the country was moving in the right direction. Biden said the numbers indicated the need to increase the vaccination effort and pass his infrastructure plan to boost the economy. Increasing child care capacity, reopening schools and boosting the rate of vaccinations should help to mitigate hiring issues, Biden said Monday.