President Joe Biden on Friday (Sept. 3) pinned the lackluster August jobs report — which showed 235,000 new nonfarm jobs added in the month, according to the U.S. Labor Department — on the continued spread of the delta variant and Americans who aren’t yet vaccinated.
The Labor Department had expected 720,000 new hires in the month, but instead were faced with the smallest jobs total for any month since January.
“There’s no question the delta variant is why today’s job report isn’t stronger,” Biden said at the White House shortly after the data came out. “We need to make more progress in fighting the delta variant.”
Biden said Americans who are not getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic are prolonging the outbreak and also contributing to many of the fears that are hurting the nation’s overall economy.
“This is a continuing pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Biden. “Too many have not gotten vaccinated, and it’s creating a lot of unease in our economy and around our kitchen tables.”
Almost 175 million people, which translates to close to 64% of U.S. adults, are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Biden acknowledged the weak jobs numbers, but defended the country’s economic progress during his time in office. “What we’re seeing is an economic recovery that’s durable and strong,” he said, pointing to the drop in unemployment from 6.3% in January to 5.2% in August. “The Biden plan is working. We’re getting results.”
Biden also said the White House will launch new tactics related to protecting schools, businesses, families and the economy to fight the delta variant.
The U.S. saw 962,000 new jobs added in June and 1.05 million more new jobs in July. The unemployment rate dropped 0.2% to 5.2% from July’s 5.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average number of new jobs added during 2021 is 586,000, according to Bureau statistics. August saw a gain of 74,000 jobs in the professional and business services sector and 19,000 jobs in architectural and engineering services. Employment levels in leisure and hospitality were unchanged, after an average spike of 350,000 since February.