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 210,000 in November and the unemployment rate declined to 4.2%, a new pandemic-era low. The unemployment rate was 6.7% for Black workers, 5.2% for Hispanic workers and 3.8% for Asian workers.
“While the overall payroll numbers aren’t where we hoped they’d be, the evidence keeps mounting that our recovery is on the right track.
“Even with month-to-month volatility, job growth has averaged 588,000 per month since President Biden took office. The unemployment rate dropped significantly in November to 4.2%, reaching a new pandemic-era low and far outperforming the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee’s expectations, which forecast unemployment would fall to just 4.8% by the end of the year. This comes on the heels of news last week that initial weekly unemployment insurance claims dropped to their lowest levels in more than 50 years. Today's report emphasizes that people are heading back to work, which is underscored by this month’s rise in the labor force participation rate, which reached 61.8% and is now the highest it’s been since April 2020.
“In November, we saw meaningful employment gains among those most affected by the pandemic. Among Black women, unemployment dropped to 5.0%, down from 7.0% last month, and among Black men, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3%, down from 8.3%. The rates among Hispanic men and women also declined. Among workers with a high school degree and no college, job gains this month were especially strong, increasing by 173,000, and the unemployment rate fell precipitously from 7.4% to 5.7% for workers with less than a high school diploma. Taken together, this demonstrates that we are heading in the right direction, and there is still more to be done.
“At the current pace of job growth, and with upward revisions of previous months’ jobs data indicating that jobs gains were even larger than initially understood, the U.S. is on track to reach pre-pandemic labor market conditions by the end of next year. This is a colossal feat given that just one year ago, the unemployment rate was 6.7% and 853,000 people initially filed for unemployment. Families being able to gather together safely this holiday season is a testament to the bold leadership and successful vaccination efforts that are bringing the pandemic under control and propelling our recovery forward.
“But we can’t lose sight of the challenges that remain before us. As a result of chronic underinvestment in our nation’s infrastructure and corporate profit-maximizing at the expense of workers, our supply chains were unprepared to handle the extreme fluctuations in supply and demand we are seeing now. This has led to bottlenecks across industries, pushing prices up on a range of goods and putting a strain on household budgets. With U.S. corporations seeing record-profits as households feel the pinch of price spikes, we must do more to build economic resilience and ensure our recovery is broadly shared.
“Passing Build Back Better is foundational to advancing the kind of economy in which workers and families actually see the benefits when the economy grows, rather than seeing those gains captured by an ever-smaller group of wealthy individuals and corporations. Build Back Better will reduce costs on big-ticket household expenses like health care, child care and housing, putting more money back into the pockets of workers and families across the country. And because it is fully paid for and invests in the productive capacity of the economy, ensuring more workers can fully participate, it will reduce long-term inflationary pressures and build economic resilience.
“It is the top priority of Democrats in Congress to ensure that families emerge from the largest economic shock since the Great Depression stronger than we were before. Decades of rising economic inequality made the U.S. economy uniquely vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. The emergence of a new variant is a reminder that building economic resilience is crucial to long-term, sustained economic growth.”