Biden says the economic 'climb is steep'

“Today there is more evidence our economy is moving in the right direction. But it’s clear we have a long way to go."

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday addressed a disappointing jobs report, coming at the end of a pandemic-spurred slump in the economy.

American employers - likely restrained by shortages of workers and raw materials - added just 266,000 new jobs in April, according to the report which surprised economists who expected nearly a million new jobs.

But Biden on Friday pointed to the dismal numbers as proof that his pandemic relief measures are needed to bring the economy back from the abyss.

"Today's report just underscores in my view how vital the actions we're taking are… Our efforts are starting to work. But the climb is steep and we still have a long way to go... The American Rescue Plan is just that - a rescue plan. It’s to get us back to where we were. But that’s not nearly enough. We have to Build Back Better. That’s why we need the American Jobs Plan I’ve proposed.”

Tied to the Jobs Plan is an infrastructure plan - where trillions more government dollars would be spent.

Republicans object to the high price tag of Biden’s initiatives.

Critics have said generous unemployment benefits within Biden’s American Rescue Plan are a disincentive for people to return to work.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Friday Tweeted: "I told you weeks ago that in #Florida I hear from #smallbusinesses every day that they can't hire people because the government is having them not go back to work.”

YELLEN: "In fact what you see is the exact opposite."

The White House refuted this notion.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Friday, highlighted that parents whose children have different return-to-school schedules, or those with health concerns, may be hesitant to re-enter the work force.

"It's clear that there are people who are not ready and able to go back into the labor force… I don’t think the addition to unemployment compensation is really the factor that is making a difference.”

Jared Bernstein, a member of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, told Reuters that - April notwithstanding - the American Rescue Plan had helped generate an average of more than half a million jobs per month over the last three months.