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Where both sides of the aisle stand on unemployment, debt debate

White House Deputy Press Secretary Emilie Simons tells Scripps News where the Biden administration stands on unemployment and debt talks.
Where both sides of the aisle stand on unemployment, debt debate
Posted at 7:08 PM, May 19, 2023

Unemployment rates were lower in April than they were a year earlier in 16 states and stable in 24 others, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

The past couple of months also boasted a solid number of jobs added, with 236,000 in March and 253,000 in April. The unemployment rate dropped to a historic low of 3.4% — the lowest it's been since 1969.

"I think what we're seeing overall on economic trends is that wages are up, jobs are up and inflation is down," White House Deputy Press Secretary Emilie Simons told Scripps News. "All of this coming together is encouraging, optimistic signs that we're seeing across the economy."

In an interview with Scripps News, Simons pointed to a number of industries that are also coming back to normal levels of staffing like hospitality, restaurants and health care. 

She pointed to President Joe Biden's four major bills as being long-term investments into infrastructure that will create jobs, with "a lot more growth to come."

"When you start back at the American Rescue Plan, which helped us get out of those twin crises of public health and economic crisis, we really wouldn't be in the place we are now if we didn't have that robust vaccination campaign, getting us back to school, getting us back to work," Simons said. "Since then, when the economy got back to equilibrium, we've really been able to build on that with each of our new bills."

But the other side of the aisle doesn't think the good parts of recent reports are all due to the president or even his party, according to a recent statement from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

The statement pointed out that eight of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates are led by Republican governors, and that the top 10 states for jobs recovered since the coronavirus pandemic began all have Republican-controlled legislatures.

"While Joe Biden creates crisis after crisis, Republican governors are creating jobs and economic opportunity," McDaniel said in the statement. "Biden's failed agenda causes suffering for American families while Republican-led states continue to keep Americans working, children in schools, and small businesses operating."

SEE MORE: Debt ceiling talks resuming Friday, Speaker McCarthy says

Plus, with the clock ticking before the U.S. defaults on its debt, there's worry for how the economy will look on the other side.

Another statement from the RNC blamed the Biden administration for where the country stands in the debt debate, especially with the president out of the country.

"The Biden-Harris administration's lack of leadership creates crisis after crisis, leaving American families to suffer the consequences, but they don’t care," the statement said.

But Simons said the administration is optimistic a bipartisan budget agreement very possible if "everyone works together in good faith."

"Default is not an option. We are not a deadbeat nation," Simons said. "When we see these different pieces of our day-to-day lives and day-to-day economy that can be affected by a default, that's why it's so important that we continue to work together with Republicans, as we are doing on a day-to-day basis, because default could wipe out millions of jobs. It could trigger a recession. It could have devastating impacts on our retirement accounts. And that is why the president has been crystal clear along with his fellow Democrats in Congress, that default is not an option."

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