Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy questioned White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a Monday briefing about whether the Biden administration’s massive unemployment benefits disincentivize people from returning to work.
Doocy pointed out the employment rose by 266,000 jobs in April despite the 7.4 million job openings nationwide. Companies have struggled to hire workers despite coronavirus restrictions relaxing across the country, and some experts have placed the blame for people not wanting to return to work on generous unemployment benefits.
“How does the White House know that people aren’t just choosing not to apply for jobs because the extra unemployment benefits are so good?” he asked.
Psaki pointed to data that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had discussed and said that the evidence did not show that unemployment was a significant factor influencing whether or not people rejoined the workforce. She pointed to other factors, like child care, vaccination rates and wages. (RELATED: ‘You Gotta Take The Money Away’: Lawrence Jones Says People Won’t Go Back To Work If They Can ‘Get Drunk On Government’)
Peter Doocy battles Jen Psaki over whether the Biden administration’s massive unemployment benefits is disincentivizing people from wanting to return to work.
Psaki disagrees, citing the lack of “livable, working wage” in jobs, schools being closed, and expensive child care. pic.twitter.com/vOEomgMwC9
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) May 10, 2021
“Well, first, let me say that we have looked at the data, and secretary Yellen referred to this, or, talked about this, on Friday – we don’t see much evidence that the extra unemployment insurance is a major driver in people not rejoining the workforce,” Psaki responded.
“We actually see the data, and our analysis shows that lack of vaccination, the lower rate, which is why I referred to the data the week that it was taken, it has an impact.”
“Child care has an impact. Schools reopening has an impact,” she continued. “But there is also the need to pay a livable, working wage. And that’s one of the reasons the president will talk about that this afternoon.”
“But as Bank of America economists who were cited in a Bloomberg story say, anyone making less than $32,000 a year is better off financially just taking the unemployment benefits,” Doocy said. “So is the White House creating an incentive just to stay home?”
Psaki pushed back, saying that the majority of economists do not believe unemployment is a major factor driving the low amount of people who have returned to the workforce.
“Well, again, the majority of economists internally and externally at the White House don’t feel that unemployment insurance – something that was done at a time to help unemployed people get through a very difficult economic downturn during a pandemic – is a major driver in our unemployment data,” the press secretary said. “That there are other factors, bigger factors, that were contributing, have been contributing, to the numbers we saw on Friday. That’s what we’re working to address. And that’s where I think our solutions should be focused.”
WATCH: Biden’s Response here