U.S. Labor Secretary Mary Walsh told Yahoo Finance on Friday that the better-than-expected June jobs report shows the Biden administration's economic plan is working — but there is still work to do.
The Department of Labor said non-farm payrolls rose by 850,000 in June, higher than the 720,000 economists had expected. Still, the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.9% from 5.8% in May.
"Certainly this month's report is a good, solid report," Walsh said. "The president's economic plan is working, and his vaccination plan is working, but we still have a little ways to go."
The Labor Secretary said he believes school re-openings in the fall should help the economic recovery, as added certainty around childcare allows parents to get back to work — though he noted keeping the number of COVID-19 cases down is critical.
"Generally, in those areas where there are high vaccination rates, those cities and towns are coming back stronger," said Walsh. "I'm encouraged about what's going to happen in the fall. I'm just also hopeful, but a little cautious to make sure we keep the virus under control and eliminate the virus."
The Labor Department said on Friday that the number of long-term unemployed, longer than 27 weeks, increased by 233,000 in June to 4 million. Walsh told Yahoo Finance Live the Labor Department is working to determine why that number isn't decreasing.
Walsh noted the lingering disparities between communities of color and white Americans shown in the jobs report. The Black unemployment rate rose to 9.2% and Hispanic unemployment rate rose to 7.4% in June — compared to 5.2% for white Americans.
"We have work to do there," Walsh said.
About half of states have eliminated or plan to cut the $300-per-week enhanced unemployment benefits, arguing the more generous benefits keep people from returning to work. Walsh argued there's been no evidence that the move to cancel benefits has spurred more people to search for work.
"According to the governors in those states more and more people are going to flood back into the job market," Walsh said. "But we've seen no signs of that at all."