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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 916,000 in March and the unemployment rate fell to 6.0%. The unemployment rate was 9.6% for Black workers and 7.9% for Hispanic workers.

“Although the economy is still down more than 8 million jobs since the pandemic began, we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel and one of the main reasons why is progress on vaccinations. As more Americans get vaccinated, more businesses are operating at full capacity, and more people are going back to work. This return to some sense of normalcy was reflected in the Conference Board’s most recent Consumer Confidence Index, which showed an increase in March from 90.4 to 109.7, the highest reading in a year.

“The health benefits of getting the vaccine are undeniable—but so are the economic benefits, which the JEC will explore at its first hearing this Congress on April 14. There are millions of Americans who still need jobs, many of whom have been unemployed since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition to putting money in their pockets until the pandemic is over, the most important thing we can do to help them find a job is to continue to put shots in arms. As Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other economic experts have said, vaccination is our strongest stimulus plan.

“Let’s keep this progress going with faster vaccination rates and with more job creation legislation from Congress to get people back to work.”

On April 14, the JEC will hold a hearing titled “Vaccinations and the Economic Recovery,” which will explore the role vaccinations and other public health interventions (i.e. social distancing, masking) play in economic recovery. Hearing witnesses include Dr. Paul Romer, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and professor of economics at NYU, Dr. Céline Gounder, clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at NYU and Bellevue Hospital, and Dr. Alexander Tabarrok, professor of economics at George Mason University.