May 7, 2021 - Economy

The polarizing jobs report

Illustration of two different colored briefcases on a grid

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Friday morning's dismal jobs report only goes to prove whatever people already believed about government policy.

The big picture: Democrats and progressives are convinced that the weak pace of job growth only serves to underscore the necessity of massive government spending to boost the economy.

  • "The US economy is being propped up by fiscal transfers," writes economist Edward Harrison. "There is still weakness beneath that. And these jobs numbers prove this."
  • In this view, the stimulus was barely big enough to generate anemic job growth, and anything smaller would have been disastrous.

Between the lines: Mothers, in particular, are being left behind in this recovery, says Hamilton Project economist Lauren Bauer. The jobs report proves that more is needed to enable women and caregivers to re-enter the labor force.

Republicans and the business lobby see the opposite dynamic.

  • "The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market," says U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief policy officer Neil Bradley. "One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit."
  • Weak job growth also throws into question the efficacy of massive government stimulus. If trillions of dollars in new spending can't provide a large bump to employment, that's evidence that it simply failed.

The other side: President Biden repudiated that view today and said that he knew when he took office that the economic recovery would be a "marathon," not a "sprint."

  • He denied that there is "measurable" data to suggest people aren't looking for jobs because of enhanced unemployment benefits.

ğŸŽ§ Podcast: Unpacking that abysmal jobs report

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