Labor Secretary Walsh: Sluggish Jobs Report Indicates ‘Steep Climb’ Ahead

Labor Secretary Walsh: Sluggish Jobs Report Indicates 'Steep Climb' Ahead Labor Secretary Walsh: Sluggish Jobs Report Indicates 'Steep Climb' Ahead Labor Secretary Marty Walsh speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on April 2, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Friday, 07 May 2021 01:47 PM

Adding 266,000 jobs would mean "a great day" under normal circumstances, but the jobs numbers announced Friday prove there's still a "steep climb" needed to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said Friday.

"We still have a ways to go, a steep climb from the pandemic, and from the, I don't know if we can call it a recession, but the economic crisis we're in," Walsh said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

The Labor Department reported Friday that nonfarm payrolls increased by only 266,000 jobs in April after rising by 770,000 in March. Economists, however, had forecast payrolls advancing by 978,000, Reuters reported.

"If you look over the last 3 months, we've added 500,000 jobs per month," Walsh said. "In the last 3 months, we added 1.5 million jobs to the economy, as compared to the previous three."

There were, however, some "bright spots," Walsh said, pointing out growth in the leisure and hospitality industry, where "restaurants have the most significant growth."

Leisure and hospitality added 330,000 jobs, more than half at restaurants and bars, reports The Washington Post. However, the sector overall is still reporting 2.8 million fewer jobs than it had reported before the pandemic started.

Those gains, however, were offset after large dips in temporary help, courier, and messaging services and by smaller declines in manufacturing and retail.

Walsh said there will "hopefully" be extended jobs growth in the summer months, along with increases in retail space.

"We saw more Americans looking for work in the month of April than in the previous month," he said. "There are some bright spots here as we move forward. We still have lots of work to do."

Meanwhile, there are business owners having trouble finding workers and are calling for the money benefits coming from the government to be pulled back.

But Walsh said he does think people want to return to work rather than drawing benefits while staying home.

"Work is long term," he said. "Unemployment is short term. I also think that as I mentioned earlier, this month's report as far as leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants, saw the most significant gains. Lots of restaurants weren't open full-time until recently."

But as companies reopen, Walsh said he hopes to see more people returning to work and the unemployment numbers improving.

Walsh also defended the Biden administration's call for higher taxes on companies and businesses to fund his economic and infrastructure plans while the country is still recovering.

"The plans that the president put forth benefit those companies that would pay more taxes with better infrastructure and better-prepared skilled workers," Walsh said. "Universal pre-K, free community college, broadband access across the country would benefit those companies … this is an investment in the American workforce. They are making the investment and the investment is a good investment moving our economy forward."

Such investments haven't been made in decades, Walsh said.

"Those investments are not dreams; they are real investments that make a difference," he concluded.

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