Joe Biden calls for 'urgent action' on stimulus as US unemployment surges

US president-elect Biden urges Congress to overcome differences as report warns of worsening economic pain

Joe Biden, the US president-elect, said Friday's "grim" jobs report showed the economic recovery was stalling and warned the "dark winter" ahead would exacerbate the pain unless Congress passed a coronavirus relief bill immediately.

"The situation requires urgent action," Mr Biden said. "Americans need help and they need it now."

A government report earlier in the day showed the labour market slowing in November amid a surge of Covid-19 cases.

Mr Biden, the Democratic former vice president, offered support for an emerging bipartisan package of about $908 billion, which has drawn tentative support from members of both parties in Congress.

But he said the bill would be "just the start" and vowed to press for additional relief once he takes office in January.

The president-elect has focused heavily on the pandemic and economy during the transition, after a campaign in which he made President Donald Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus a central theme.

He is expected to name Jeff Zients, a co-chair of his transition team and a former Obama administration economic aide, as his executive to co-ordinate the government's pandemic response and oversee vaccine distribution, a source said.

This week, Mr Biden unveiled his economic team, led by his nominee for the first female Treasury secretary, former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen.

Mr Biden's selections for top roles thus far have included some ground-breaking choices, including Neera Tanden, who would be the first woman of colour to run the Office of Management and Budget; and Cecilia Rouse, who would be the first black woman to oversee the Council of Economic Advisers.

Transition spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday that Mr Biden would announce more positions early next week, including members of his public health team.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence was visiting Georgia on Friday, where he was receiving a briefing at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centres for Disease Control and Preventionon on the pandemic.

Mr Pence then attended a rally with Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who face January ru-noff elections that will determine control of the US Senate.

Mr Trump, a Republican who has still refused to concede to Mr Biden, is due to lead a rally with Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler on Saturday.