WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. jobs hole created by the pandemic is deeper than the crater dug by the 2008 financial crisis and the economy needs more support to ensure a speedy recovery, a top White House economic adviser told Reuters on Friday.
“We remain in a jobs hole that is deeper than that of the Great Recession,” Council of Economic Advisers member Heather Boushey said in an interview. “This remains a crisis.”
President Joe Biden’s team is working to secure support for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 response bill in Congress, spending it has said is necessary to prevent long-term damage to the U.S. economy. They want the bill signed into law before March 14, when some current unemployment benefits run out.
The economy added 379,000 jobs last month, according to Labor Department figures on Friday, a better-than-expected result that nonetheless leaves an economy with 9.5 million fewer jobs than before the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Estimates suggest that it could take Biden’s entire four-year term in office to restore those jobs.
Boushey and another top Biden economic aide, Brian Deese, told reporters on Friday that they agreed with estimates that the legislative package would cut a year off the amount of time it would take to get the economy back to normal employment levels.
The relief package appears poised for a heavily partisan response in Congress, where Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control both chambers.
The Senate is debating the bill on Friday ahead of a final vote. If the Senate approves the bill, it will have to be sent back to the House of Representatives for final passage.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)