Biden says his plans are working after October jobs report beats expectations

US President Joe Biden presents his national statement as part of the World Leaders' Summit of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 1, 2021.

By Kate Sullivan, CNN

(CNN) -- President Joe Biden touted the progress the US is making in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, and cited his policies as the reason, after the jobs recovery gathered some steam last month and employers added 531,000 positions in October.

"America is getting back to work. Our economy is starting to work for more Americans," Biden said, speaking from the White House.

The better-than-expected report marked a possible turning point after two months of sluggish job gains that were chalked up to the Delta variant of Covid-19 spreading throughout the nation. The unemployment rate in October also fell to 4.6%, which is the lowest level since the economic recovery started in May 2020.

It was very welcome news for the President and Democrats, who are still reeling from a gubernatorial defeat in Virginia and a closer-than-expected race in New Jersey this week. The political shocks raised serious concerns for Democrats over how their party would fare in the 2022 midterm elections and how Biden's presidency is being assessed by voters.

"This did not happen by accident or 'just because,' " Biden said, pointing to the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill he signed into law earlier this year.

"We laid the foundation for this recovery with my American Rescue Plan that Congress passed at the beginning of my term. It put money in working families' pockets, it gave families with kids a tax cut each month, it helped keep small businesses going in the dark days earlier this year and it provided the resources to launch one of the fastest mass vaccination programs ever."

Biden -- whose approval rating last month hit the lowest level of his administration -- on Friday seized the opportunity to make the case his administration's response to the pandemic has been working. In particular, the jobs numbers helped boster the President's argument that vaccine mandates will help with the economic recovery.

Biden's new vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees is being fought by Republican leaders throughout the country. There are currently 24 states that have sued or have formally threatened to sue the Biden administration over the mandate.

"Beating Covid-19 remains one of the most important ways to strengthen our economy -- not just save lives, but strengthen our economy. We're making progress," the President said.

"That's good for our health, but it's also good for our economy," he added. "Now vaccinated workers are going back to work. Vaccinated shoppers are going back to stores. And with the launch of the vaccine for kids ages 5 through 11 this week, we can make sure more vaccinated children can stay in school."

Biden also referenced the new Pfizer experimental pill to treat Covid-19 infections. An interim analysis -- done before the trial was scheduled to end -- showed an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 if given the drug within the first three days of symptom onset, Pfizer said earlier Friday.

Still, the President said "there's a lot more to be done."

"We still have to tackle the costs that American families are facing, but this recovery is faster, stronger, and fair and wider than almost anyone could have predicted," Biden said.

The President said he wants to make sure the recovery "is fully felt," and that Americans see the progress "in their lives, bank accounts, in their hopes and expectations, for tomorrow is better than today."

The President ramped up the pressure on Capitol Hill and called on the House to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the massive climate and social safety net bill immediately. The political loss in Virginia caused panic among Democrats on the Hill, who appear to agree action needs to be taken on the legislation soon.

"I'm asking every House member, member of the House of Representatives, to vote yes on both these bills right now. Send the infrastructure bill to my desk. Send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate," Biden said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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