White House press secretary Jen Psaki brushed aside a U.S. jobs report on Friday showing employment growth tanked in November, failing to meet even half of what most economists expected.
Even though the coronavirus pandemic has greatly receded, the economy only generated about 210,000 new jobs last month, though economists were expecting growth in the neighborhood of 550,000, Fox Business reported, marking the slowest pace so far this year.
That said, unemployment fell from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent, the Labor Department also reported; the outlet added that there are still about 3.9 million fewer jobs in the U.S. than there were before the pandemic.
“Today’s employment report is doubly disappointing because the reference week occurred just as it looked like COVID was on the retreat,” Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist, told Fox Business. “This was a moment for people to return to malls and to return to work. The COVID-related news has only gotten worse since then.”
RSM chief economist Joe Brusuelas went on to explain that the report was a “tale of two surveys.”
“We expect that the topline establishment survey will be revised upward over the next two to three months and will look more like what the household survey is showing: the labor market is tightening, and wages are rising in what is the best labor market for workers since the late 1990s,” he told the outlet.
Meanwhile, during an in-studio appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Friday, Psaki declined to address the dramatic fallout in employment numbers.
“210,000. So if we look at that breaking news right now, that’s a number that feels a little … what? A little off?”
“Well, I know this sounds a little archaic, but I can’t comment on them until 9:30, by rules, because I work at the White House,” Psaki claimed.
“What I will say is people can expect the president to continue to say, today, month to month, is that what we’re seeing are good trends, that we are continuing to put people back to work, that we are continuing to see participation in the workforce, that we are continuing to see the unemployment rate go down, but there’s more we need to do to address core problems that have existed long before the pandemic,” Psaki added.
Earlier in the interview, she admitted that economic issues were far more important to Americans than social and cultural issues.
“Democrats are losing really badly on economic issues, and that a lot of Americans care more about economic issues versus social issues and of course, their health,” co-host Mika Brzezinski said.
“How do you respond? How do you think the White House can do better?” Brzezinski asked.
“No you-know-what Sherlock! Of course, they do!” Psaki quipped, going on to claim that the ‘Build Back Better’ and the recently-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure law will both improve Americans’ economic outlook.
“The American people care about COVID, getting it under control, and they care about the economy. As a Virginia woman in the suburbs who has neighbors who are Democrats, Republicans, independents, I can tell you that’s what they care the most about,” she said.
Regarding what the administration can do, Psaki said “we have an opportunity to do now is be quite bold about the choice that people across the country have.”
“Yes, we recognize prices are up. That’s a problem. We recognize we’re still fighting the pandemic,” she said.
“Who has a plan to do it? Are you going to be the Republicans, who are going to scream, ‘It’s a problem’ from a bullhorn, or are you going to be a Democrat and say, ‘Look, we just passed this infrastructure bill. We want to get Build Back Better done, which, by the way, will lower costs for child care, for elder care, for health care,'” Psaki said.
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