First-time unemployment claims shattered expectations last week, rising to a two-month high just weeks after President Joe Biden said the U.S. economy was “on the move again.”
The Department of Labor found that 419,000 Americans filed for initial jobless benefits in the week that ended July 17—20 percent higher than the 350,000 estimate forecasted by economists.
The two-month high in new jobless claims comes just weeks after Biden seized on a June report that showed a pandemic low in the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits.
“No other major economy in the world is growing as fast as ours,” Biden said. “None of this success is an accident. It isn’t luck.”
While many House Democrats have tied an ongoing labor shortage to Biden’s enhanced unemployment benefits, the White House’s top economist recently blamed businesses for the hiring shortfall.
“We have to recognize that we are coming out of a truly unique pandemic,” White House economic adviser Brian Deese told Yahoo Finance on Monday. “At the same time, if businesses pay a fair wage, if they offer benefits, we’re confident that they’re going to find workers when they need them.”
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Roughly half of U.S. states have moved to end Biden’s boosted benefits, which are slated to expire in September, at an earlier date. Nevada, Rhode Island, and California lead the nation in the number of people on unemployment benefits, according to Thursday’s report. All three states are run by Democrats.