WASHINGTON (AP) – Treasury Secretary Ethan Yellen said on Friday that despite last month’s big job gains, Congress still needs to “grow” by accepting President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion bailout package to get millions back to work sooner.
In an interview with PBS NewsHour on Friday, Yellen said Biden’s package should not be cut just because the February report created 379,000 new jobs, the best since October.
At that rate, the country would take more than two years to return to full-time employment, he said. But with the administration package, he said the country could return to full employment next year.
“It’s a big package, but I think we have to go big now, we can afford to go big,” Yellen said. “The most important thing is to get our economy back on track, to help people rebuild their lives, to make sure this epidemic does not permanently hurt our workforce.”
Yellen said the unemployment rate, which fell to 6.2% in February, overestimated the improvement in the workforce because it did not count the 4 million people who quit looking for a job and left the job market. He said the real unemployment rate was 10%.
Following the approval of the House of Representatives last week, the Senate is now considering a $ 1.9 trillion bailout package that supporters are seeking to keep Democrats in the 50-50 House, as no Republican is expected to vote in favor.
Asked about the turmoil in US financial markets over the past two weeks as interest rates began to rise, Yellen said he did not think development as an investor was beginning to worry that inflation was spiraling out of control. He said the rise in interest rates was a sign that the economy was starting to improve as more people were vaccinated. Եւ Biden’s budget package goes through Congress.
The Federal Reserve “really has a tool to tackle inflation if it becomes a problem, but I do not see the markets worried about that,” Yellen said.
Yellen also said that Biden remains committed to raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. The administration will try other legislation later this year where the proposal could be included after a Senate lawmaker decided it could not be part of the aid bill, he said.
He said the administration is working on a “Build a Better Future” event to boost infrastructure spending, which will be used to address racial inequality by increasing support for job training and education. The administration also wants to address other issues, such as paid leave and childcare.
“The national debt, which has reached a level that has not been seen in terms of its relationship with the general economy since the end of World War II, is not a threat at the moment, given that interest rates, despite rising, remain at historically low levels,” he said.
“The spending we’re doing right now is definitely helping us owe our debt by getting our economy back on track,” Yellen said.