WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden highlighted that many parents will begin getting checks in the mail this month under the new child tax credit as he seized on a strong jobs report to argue his economic policies are working.
As part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan approved in March, the federal government will start sending out monthly checks to parents who qualify for the annual credit of $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 for those older. Biden said a middle-class family with two young children can expect a monthly check of $600 for the next 12 months.
The payments were part of a broader case Biden made Friday to argue that his economic policies are working. Republicans have criticized the direct stimulus elements of his plan, saying that the expanded unemployment benefits were keeping workers on the sidelines and that the influx of cash into the economy would lead to high inflation.
"None of this happened by accident,” Biden said. “We're proving to the naysayers and the doubters that they were wrong.
The U.S. economy gained 850,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate rose to 5.9 percent from 5.8 percent as more Americans entered the job market looking for work.
Economists had expected gains of roughly 700,000 jobs. The biggest gains were in the leisure and hospitality industry as more widespread vaccinations have led Americans to increase activities like air travel, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants.
“This is historic progress pulling our economy out of the worst crisis in 100 years, driven in part by our dramatic progress and vaccinating our nation, and beating back the pandemic, as well as other elements in the American Rescue Plan,” Biden said Friday.
Despite the gains, economists and policy makers warn there are still warning signs for the economy ahead and a long path ahead toward getting back to pre-pandemic employment levels. The U.S. economy is still 6.7 million jobs short of where it was before the pandemic.
Employers have been struggling to find workers and there is a range of possible explanations about the ongoing labor shortages, from expanded unemployment insurance benefits to concerns about the threat of the virus and the lack of child care.
In using the moment to promote the success of his Covid-19 relief plan, he made a sales pitch for his nearly $600 billion infrastructure plan that would spend billions on roadways, water infrastructure and public transit.
“We have a chance to seize this economic momentum of the first months of my administration, to not just build back, as I’ve been saying, but build back better,” Biden said.
The White House said the Congressional Budget Office now projects economic growth of 7.4 percent in 2021, up from 3.7, and for the unemployment rate to hit 4.6 percent by the end of the year and return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.
“Our economy is on the move, and we have Covid-19 on the run,” Biden said. “Yes, we have more work to do to get America vaccinated and everyone back to work.”