Hiring is up, with 379,000 jobs added in February, beating expectations. And the jobless rate is down to 6.2%. Welcome news, but the White House is reiterating the need to go big on economic recovery.
"Today’s job report shows that the American Rescue Plan is urgently needed, in my view," said President Biden. "Our economy still has 9.5 million fewer jobs than it had this time last year. At that rate, it would take two years to get us back on track."
Part of the president's nearly $2 trillion proposal would continue supplemental unemployment assistance through much of the summer and send direct payments of $1,400 to Americans who qualify.
As the massive bill works its way through the Senate, the president is putting pressure on lawmakers to get the job done, speaking ahead of a meeting with his economic advisers on Friday.
"And some of last month's job growth is a result of the December relief package," President Biden said. "But without a rescue plan these gains are going to slow. We can't afford one step forward and two steps backwards, we need to beat the virus, provide essential relief and build an inclusive recovery. People need the help now."
For millions of Americans, that help can't come soon enough. Just last week, 745,000 people filed first-time unemployment claims -- 9,000 more than the week prior.
The White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are up against the clock as additional federal unemployment assistance will expire on March 14.