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 559,000 in May and the unemployment rate was 5.8%—dipping below 6% for the first time since the peak of the pandemic. The unemployment rate was 9.1% for Black workers and 7.3% for Hispanic workers. 

“President Biden’s economic plan is working. The economy has added back nearly 15 million jobs—or 66% of those lost—since the peak of the pandemic. Today’s numbers show that we are continuing on the right path to close this gap and regain the jobs lost during the pandemic, but more—and targeted—investment is needed to overcome the challenges we are facing.  

“The report highlights how the administration continues to provide a path forward to rebuild our country and get our economy back up and running. The jobs numbers also paint a clear picture that investing in the health, well-being and economic security of Americans is not only the correct thing to do, but it is also sound economic policy. As more Americans get fully vaccinated, more businesses can open their doors, and more people are able to safely return to their jobs. 

“However, while we continue to make our way out of the pandemic, millions of Americans still need help—not everyone is experiencing the recovery equally as Black and Hispanic unemployment rates still lag behind that of whites. Many states have made plans to end enhanced unemployment insurance despite the lack of evidence that it holds back employment. The JEC recently found that ending enhanced UI could cost local economies over $13 billion across the country. 

“The American people need all the support they can get, especially Black and Hispanic communities that were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Lawmakers must step up. That includes continuing enhanced UI to support workers seeking jobs and Congress passing President Biden’s Jobs and Families Plans. As the economy continues to grow, and as outlined in the President’s budget last week, we have the fiscal capacity to meet this challenge to ensure our economy is more prosperous and equitable in the years to come.”