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 Department of Labor reported that first-time unemployment claims for the week ending April 25 reached 3.8 million. (The non-seasonally adjusted number was 3.5 million.)

“The tens of millions Americans who have lost their jobs in the past six weeks are paying the price for the rest of us—forced to stay home without pay to help slow the spread of the virus and save lives. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 8-12 million more would have likely filed over the last few weeks if long lines, jammed phones and feeble filing systems did not prevent them from doing so. My Congressional office has been flooded with calls from people who have lost their jobs and are frantic because they are facing financial ruin and cannot get their benefits.

“Congress must assure these Americans that the federal government will help them survive this public health and economic crisis no matter how long it lasts. This means that in addition to expanding unemployment benefits, like we have done, we need to link the continuation of these benefits to the unemployment rate using automatic triggers.

“Using automatic triggers will ensure that those who have lost their jobs get unemployment benefits on time for as long as they need them; it will also ensure that election-year politics do not jeopardize benefits altogether.”

Under the direction of Vice Chair Beyer, the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee recently released a report on the importance of providing economic assistance for a long as the economy remains weak. It argues that Americans will suffer unnecessary financial distress if help is provided only on an ad hoc basis and economic uncertainty will depress consumer spending, further weakening the broader economy. Moreover, it argues that unemployed and struggling Americans will be less likely to follow public health guidelines if they don’t have confidence that they will get the help they need to avoid financial ruin.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman 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 at Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.