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Psaki Pressed on Whether Unemployment Benefits Are a Driver in People Not Returning To Work

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was questioned by Fox News’ Peter Doocy if unemployment benefits are a driver in people not returning to work.

“How does the White House know that people are just choosing not to apply for jobs because the extra amount of unemployment benefits are so good?” Doocy asked during Monday’s press briefing.

Psaki pushed back, saying, “We don’t see much evidence that the extra unemployment insurance is a major driver in people not rejoining the workforce.”

The White House press secretary noted statistics show factors such as vaccinations, childcare, school reopening have “an impact.” She added, “But there is also a need to pay a livable working wage.”

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Psaki added that the “majority” of economists both internally and externally at the White House “don’t feel that unemployment insurance … is a major driver in our unemployment data. That there are other factors, bigger factors that have been contributing to the numbers we saw” this past week in the recent jobs report.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said during Sunday’s CBS’ “Face the Nation” interview that she does not believe unemployment benefits are a driver in people not returning to work. However, she suggested it is out of “fear.”

“The number one reason now that people aren’t going back to work is what you said: fear. Or if they can’t find childcare or schools are still closed,” Raimondo said.

Asked by Doocy what the “fear” suggestion is “based on,” Psaki said during Monday’s press briefing that people are “fearful about getting sick” and about whether there are childcare centers, among other factors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan included an additional $300 per week payments to unemployed Americans — which Republicans placed blame on for the disappointing jobs report released on Friday.

Republican governors in states like Arkansas, Montana, and South Carolina, have sought to end the additional jobless benefits.

Biden spoke about the recent jobs report on Friday, saying, “This morning, we learned that our economy created 266,000 jobs in April. It hadn’t been adjusted again yet, but that’s what it says, 266, and listening to commentators today … you might think that we should be disappointed.”

He continued, “But when we passed the American Rescue Plan, I want to remind everybody, it was designed to help us over the course of a year, not 60 days, a year. We never thought that after the first 50 or 60 days, everything would be fine. There’s more evidence that our economy is moving in the right direction, but it’s clear we have a long way to go.”

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Biden was previously asked if enhanced benefits contributed to the latest jobs report, to which he said, “No, nothing measurable.”

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