Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, released the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that nonfarm payroll employment grew by 273,000 in February and the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent.

“It’s difficult to celebrate given the coming impact of the coronavirus, which may soon make this report irrelevant. The outbreak will pose a substantial threat to both public health and the economy if the administration is not able to contain it. We need to focus on the immense challenges ahead.

“The President’s ineffective response to the coronavirus has shaken the economy. The stock market is extremely volatile and to many people frightening, after suffering the worst weekly drop since the financial crisis. Businesses have more questions than answers right now because the President only offers obfuscation.

“The Fed took surprising action by cutting interest rates before its March meeting, and Congress passed an emergency supplemental bill that includes provisions that help small businesses—but we don’t know yet whether that will be enough to stabilize the economy. In the end, neither the Fed nor Congress will be able to overcome the President’s misinformation and missteps.

“In the manufacturing industry, which is in a recession, we’ve lost 5,000 jobs since the beginning of the year. Add to that the impact that the coronavirus and the trade wars are having on supply chains and we’re likely to see job growth in manufacturing that’s even more disappointing.

“In addition, although the President talked about a ‘blue-collar boom’ in the State of the Union, in recent months it’s been more like a bust. But by now we should know that the fact that the President says something doesn’t make it so. Wage growth has been slower than expected, and was again modest in February, and if it wasn’t for states that have increased the minimum wage, as a result of pressure from Democrats, many workers would be making even less.

“Americans are having to do more with less—and many work more than one job to make ends meet. Their wages aren’t keeping up with the costs of housing, health care and child care. In addition, too many Americans have yet to see anything trickle down from the President’s tax cuts for corporations and the rich, which will add $1.9 trillion to the national debt.”

Congressman Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.