Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 194,000 in September and the unemployment rate declined to 4.8%, a new pandemic-era low. The unemployment rate was 7.9% for Black workers, 6.3% for Hispanic workers and 4.2% for Asian workers.
“The latest jobs numbers confirm what we already knew: Our nation’s economic recovery hinges on controlling the spread of the coronavirus. We always knew the road to recovery would not be without its bumps, and as the Delta variant peaked in September, communities could not safely resume business as usual. But with strong leadership and bold investment in our nation’s economic resilience, we will build back better.
“We must not lose sight of the substantial progress our nation has made: Since President Biden took office, the economy has added nearly 5 million jobs. The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.8%, a new pandemic-era low and an indication that the labor market is continuing to tighten. The unemployment rate dropped for adult men, adult women, white workers and Black workers, and was stable for Asian and Hispanic workers. The number of unemployed workers declined by 710,000—dropping below eight million for the first time since the pandemic’s peak—and the number of long-term unemployed workers dropped by 496,000. Yesterday, we learned initial unemployment claims declined by 38,000—exceeding expectations—and are now down by 61% under the current administration and by 95% since the peak of the pandemic. We’ve seen consistently strong economic growth, with two consecutive quarters of real GDP growth above 6%, and the Federal Reserve is projecting 5.9% real GDP growth this year.
“Despite this progress, we know that labor force participation, particularly for women who often shoulder the bulk of the caregiving responsibilities and have thus been particularly impacted by the coronavirus, remains low. Today's numbers underscore that to fully support women's reentrance into the workforce, we must invest in child care, universal pre-k, paid leave and other programs that have been proven to have a direct and positive impact on women's workforce participation.
“As the recovery continues, Democrats in Congress remain steadfast in their commitment to delivering transformative investments in workers and families to build long-term economic resilience and advance stronger, stable and broadly shared growth. Through the Build Back Better plan, we can cut taxes for working families, level the playing field for small businesses, and invest in America’s long-term economic prosperity, while asking the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in what is best about our nation: our people. As a nation, we cannot afford to miss it.”