White House dings Trump over job losses amid pandemic

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The White House blasted unemployment reported under former President Donald Trump, glossing over the role the coronavirus pandemic played in job losses.

President Joe Biden will be the first chief executive to create 1 million jobs in his first 100 days in office, according to press secretary Jen Psaki.

“He’s on track for that in our view,” she said, touting Biden’s $2.25 trillion jobs spending package and ambitious climate agenda. Both proposals face significant congressional hurdles.

She added, “And a lot of these critics are the same people who advocated for the policies of the last administration and the last president, who oversaw an economy that lost more jobs than any president since Herbert Hoover.”

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Psaki had been asked why the White House wanted to dole out $174 billion in taxpayer dollars on the electric vehicle market, including 500,000 charging stations, when officials, such as climate envoy John Kerry, claimed the private sector was already heading in that direction. That particular investment was pitched in Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

“Our view, the president’s view, is there’s a role for government to play to incentivize, to ensure that there is continued movement in this direction,” she said. “A lot of the investment that’s in the American Jobs Plan is about ensuring that there are industries and jobs that are created in sectors in the future to help the next generation survive and prosper.”

Unemployment in March was at 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this month. That marks an impressive recovery from the historic 80-year high of 14.8% unemployment last April when people were first advised to stay home, and businesses were forced to shutter, though it was still shy of 3.5% unemployment in March 2020.

The rosier economic outlook is mostly being driven by the rising vaccination rate against COVID-19, coupled with the relaxation of virus-related restrictions. The first coronavirus shot was not approved until after the 2020 election.

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Last month, the economy was buoyed by 916,000 new jobs. Another 8 million jobs are needed to return to the pre-pandemic peak of 152.5 million in February 2020 after 22 million jobs were lost between then and April 2020. Trump, however, presided over an extra 12 million jobs before Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

The pandemic-induced fluctuation rendered Trump the first post–World War II president to leave office with fewer jobs than at the start of his administration. Hoover also notched higher unemployment when his term ended in 1933 amid the Great Depression.

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