Press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday it’s "difficult thing to analyze" whether enhanced unemployment benefits are discouraging recipients from finding work as the Department of Labor released a second straight disappointing monthly jobs report
She also said governors have "every right" to end benefits early but that those changes haven’t taken effect yet so there’s no way to know how they will impact job growth.
Psaki’s remarks in Friday’s daily briefing marked a slight change in tone from months past, when the White House said research did not show that adding $300 per week to unemployment would encourage people to stay home. Nevertheless, she continued to state that the effect was not a "concern" at the White House
"Well if we had that concern we would be ending that the enhanced benefits," she said Friday. "We're not, I mean we, there's still 7 million people who are out of work, right, and we're talking about $300 benefits for three more months," the press secretary said.
The May jobs report released Friday showed the U.S. economy added 559,000 jobs last month, more than 100,000 fewer than expected but better than April’s 266,000 jobs, as the unemployment rate fell to 5.8%, a fresh pandemic low.
"We don't see much evidence that the extra unemployment insurance is a major driver in people not rejoining the workforce," Psaki said. "There are other factors—bigger factors—that have been contributing to the numbers we saw on Friday."
Meanwhile, 25 GOP-led states decided in May and June to prematurely cut off the sweetened aid sometime over the summer. Other states’ residents will lose the added $300 on Sept. 6.
"The governors who have made the decision, which they have every right to do, to pull back on these benefits are really talking about having them for six weeks or eight weeks less than we would already intend to have them," she continued.
Psaki added that the unemployed "can" and "should" benefit from the enhanced benefits for the extra eight to ten weeks.
"Some governors disagree, that's okay. At the end of the day in early September,, these benefits will no longer be a part of the plan."
Before Psaki, another Biden aide, economic advisor Brian Deese, repeatedly stressed during the briefing that the enhanced benefits were "temporary."
"A temporary boost in unemployment benefits that we enacted helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and who still may be in the process of getting vaccinated," the president said in brief remarks from Delaware following the May jobs report. "But it's going to expire in 90 days — it makes sense it expires in 90 days."