Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported this morning its initial estimate of second quarter gross domestic product (GDP), showing that real GDP shrank at an annual rate of 32.9%—the worst quarterly decline in history.

The Department of Labor (DOL) also reported this morning that 2 million workers filed new unemployment claims (not seasonally adjusted) for the week ending July 25, which includes 830,000 that filed claims under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and others.

In addition, DOL reported that 30.2 million Americans received unemployment compensation during the week ending July 11, which includes the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) that is scheduled to expire tomorrow. 

From Congressman Beyer: 

“On the day government agencies report that there are 30 million Americans on unemployment and that we experienced the worst quarterly decline in GDP in history, Republicans are proposing cuts to support for families, businesses and state and local governments that would hurt our economy—not help it.

“One of the most egregious examples is their proposal to cut enhanced unemployment benefits by $400, which the Economic Policy Institute estimates would not only harm millions of workers, but result in 2.5% less in GDP and 3.4 million fewer jobs created over the next year.

“I am not sure what more Republicans need to see. More than one million Americans have filed new unemployment insurance claims for 19 straight weeks. The unemployment rate remains the highest it has been in 80 years and will likely remain above 10 percent in the fourth quarter of this year.

“We are down 15 million jobs from February, including 3 million jobs that have been permanently lost. Partly as a result, one fifth of American households could not make any portion of their rent or mortgage payment on time in July.

“While millions struggle to pay their bills, McConnell and company cut their checks and give us more of the same—foolish fantasies that markets can fix what only government can and the coronavirus will contain itself. Our country has a steep hill to climb during the third and fourth quarters of this year and Republicans are making it even steeper.”

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don 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. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and recommend improvements in economic policy.

Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is the vice chair.