President Joe Biden on Friday touted the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic after the US added 943,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4%, but said more work needs to be done to vaccinate the rest of the country amid the Delta variant surge.
“My message today is not one of celebration. It’s one to remind us we have a lot of hard work left to be done, both to beat the Delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery,” Biden said, speaking from the White House.
But the President argued the strong July jobs numbers showed that his administration’s policies were strengthening the economy amid a deadly pandemic that has lasted for about a year and a half.
“Now while our economy is far from complete, and while we undoubtedly will have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle the Delta surge of Covid, what is indisputable now is this: The Biden plan is working. The Biden plan produces results, and the Biden plan is moving the country forward,” Biden said.
Biden's White House
The July jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday showed the biggest jobs gain since August of last year, when more than 1 million positions were added back. It was more than the 870,000 jobs economists had expected.
Some 253,000 jobs were added in restaurants and bars alone last month. The hospitality and leisure industries, which were decimated by Covid-19 lockdown measures, were once again the biggest contributors of job gains.
The June jobs gains were revised up as well, to 938,000 positions added, showing the recovery’s strong pace over the summer.
Biden also touted the massive $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which would enact key elements of Biden’s economic agenda. The President argued the package, which is currently making its way through the Senate, would make key investments in communities across the nation and further boost the US economy and its competitiveness.
The President said the Delta variant is “taking a needless toll on our country,” primarily among unvaccinated Americans, and urged Americans to get the shot.
“Today about 400 people will die because of the Delta variant in this country. A tragedy, because virtually all of these deaths were preventable if people had gotten vaccinated,” Biden said.
Many Americans have not gotten vaccinated, and the White House has been working to conduct outreach and combat misinformation running rampant about the vaccines.
But the President said the national vaccination effort had protected the population from the worst of the Delta variant spread.
“Because of our success with the vaccination effort, this new Delta variant wave of Covid-19 will be very different,” Biden said.
Still, the President cautioned: “Cases are going to go up before they come back down. It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Half of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to White House Data Director Dr. Cyrus Shahpar.
In a tweet on Friday, Shahpar said that more than 821,000 doses had been reported administered over the previous day’s total, including about 555,000 people who got their first shot.
The US has seen a rise in cases recently, fueled by the Delta variant, but Covid-19 vaccinations have also been ticking up in recent days.
According to the latest data available from the CDC dashboard, an average of 699,261 doses have been administered each day over the past seven days, and an average of 464,778 people initiated vaccination each day over the past seven days.
On Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved to cut off debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, paving the way for swift passage of the sweeping legislation.
The bill features $550 billion in new federal spending over five years and represents a major bipartisan achievement that will allow both parties to claim victory.
The plan invests $110 billion in funding toward roads, bridges and major projects, $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid, $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access, $39 billion to modernize and expand transit systems and $7.5 billion to create the first federal network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The bill additionally includes $55 billion for water infrastructure, $15 billion of which will be directed toward replacing lead pipes.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Anneken Tappe, Ali Zaslav, Clare Foran and Manu Raju contributed to this report.