WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden insists an unexpected slowdown in companies’ hiring is clear new proof the U.S. needs the multitrillion-dollar federal boost he’s pushing.

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But his sales effort is challenged by critics who say Friday’s jobless figures show his earlier aid legislation — successfully rushed through Congress — is actually doing more harm than good.

The government report seemed to show that the U.S. economy iss not so much accelerating as stutter-stepping along, as the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.1%.

Economists had projected roughly one million added jobs last month. And the modest 266,000 indicated that Biden's earlier $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package has provided an uneven boost so far.

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