Jim Sciutto Presses Labor Secretary On Disappointing Jobs Report: ‘Second Month in a Row Where It’s Not a Good Number’


CNN anchor Jim Sciutto pressed Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Friday over the release of a disappointing jobs report for the month of September.

The United States added just 194,000 jobs last month, far short of the 500,000 figure projected by economists. The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent in September from 5.2 percent the previous month.

“This is the second month in a row where it’s not a good number for the country, for the administration,” said Sciutto “Why another miss here?”

Walsh replied:

This is a complex report. When you take a deep dive into this report, and we did it this morning, you look at areas like hospitality and retail where we gained 74,000 jobs. The expectation was much higher. But When we looked at the reason for that, the Delta variant, the rise in the Delta variant absolutely had an impact in the restaurant, leisure, hospitality area. Both as hiring and also in people going out to dinner using that.

The other area that I think is kind of baffling to a lot of people is the public sector education realm. I think a lot of us with school reopening across this country most of it in-person learning. Lots of people needed to work, teacher’s aides, and things like that in schools and school bus drivers and we saw an issue there, so we have to do a little more work in those sectors because we have an ability this next month to change that.

“But I will say this,” continued Walsh, only to be interrupted by Sciutto, who asked, “How do you have an ability to change that?”

Walsh replied, “Working with cities, working with states and working with training, job training and making sure that the American Rescue Plan money that was allocated several months ago by Congress, making sure that money is being allocated, spent, to bring people on.”

Sciutto remarked that “there jobs available in many places, but [there are] people not taking those jobs” and asked Walsh if he is “concerned that mismatch is a structural issue that will hold back the hope for recovery, the one you and others have been counting on.”

Walsh said:

I think all of us are living in a pandemic time and we’re trying to figure out what’s happening here. And there’s no road map like the 2016 Great Recession. It’s a lot different than that. Two months ago everyone was asking me questions about the $300 keeping people out of work. The $300 now is gone. We didn’t see growth there.

What we’re seeing, I think, in a lot of cases is one, the pandemic is wreaking havoc and fear on people as far as going back to work. I also think that a lots of families and people are looking at their work-life balance and they’re changing careers, or they want to change careers and they’re looking at that as well. That’s another thing. And this isn’t just an American issue. This is happening all over the world, quite honestly.

“If the pandemic, as you say, is principally to blame for this, what is the Biden administration’s plan to address that? Because to this point, it has been about making vaccines available, which has happened and encouraging those who are hesitant to get them and also trying vaccine mandates, etc. But it did not prevent this surge,” said Sciutto. “And you have a regional problem here where some parts of the country are just flat out avoiding vaccines in general. What is the administration’s plan to address that piece of this economic problem?”

Walsh responded, “I think you just hit the nail on the head with certain parts of the country where we saw the highest numbers of Delta variant and we saw the lowest number of vaccines and we saw people not wearing masks.”

He continued:

The president laid out a plan in January. He’s sticking to that plan. We’ve added 5 million jobs to the economy. We’ve gotten about 70 percent of the American people vaccinated with at least one shot.

We’re working right now, the Department of Labor’s working on emergency standard to have employers over 100 people to get people vaccinated or testing. What that’ll do is bring more confidence to the workplace for people to come back into work. We’re also investing in job training and workforce development. We’re doing all the things we need to do.

We’re seeing there’s some bright spots of this it report today. We saw the women participation of unemployment number down to 4.2 percent. Black women unemployment rate  down to 7.3 percent.

We’re seeing good things, there’s good signs. This isn’t all doom and gloom today. I would love to be on the show saying we added 3 million jobs to the economy and now let’s go on to something else. But unfortunately, we’re not there yet.

Watch above, via CNN.

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