Washington, May 10 (EFE).- The president of the United States announced on Monday that the government will start to distribute its $350 billion fund to help states and local governments cope with the pandemic and facilitate economic recovery, which he warned would neither be “easy” nor “immediate.”

Speaking at the White House, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, Joe Biden said that on Monday an online portal would open for state and local governments to apply for the first funds from the American Rescue Plan.

The $350 billion is part of the third tax bailout package approved by Congress in February, worth $1.9 trillion. Of the total, $195 billion will go to states and $130 billion to local governments.

Biden’s words come after the disappointing April unemployment data, when the rate rose one tenth to 6.1 percent and 260,000 jobs were created, well below analyst estimates of 1 million new jobs, which has raised doubts about the strength of the ongoing recovery.

“I never said – and no serious analyst ever suggested – that climbing out of the deep, deep hole our economy was in would be simple, easy, immediate, or perfectly steady,” said the president, who stressed that to support economic reactivation it is essential that Congress approve his infrastructure investment plan, valued at $2.25 trillion.

For now, however, he has met head-on opposition from Republicans who consider it excessive.

Biden insisted that economic forecasts point to growth of more than 6 percent in the US this year, a rate not seen in the world’s leading economy since the 1980s, largely driven by its extraordinary fiscal stimulus plan.

According to data from the Department of Labor, the US economy still has 8.2 million fewer jobs than in February 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.

The US, which has recorded more than 580,000 deaths, already has more than a third of the population fully vaccinated, and Biden expects 70 percent to be inoculated by early July. EFE

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