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 March 21 reached a record 3,283,000. The release is the first real look at how the coronavirus has impacted businesses and the workers they employ.

“These numbers are far worse than anything we saw during the Great Recession. We need to move quickly to help those that are getting hurt. It not only protects those families but it protects the economy—so everyone benefits.

“That is why the bill passed by the Senate to increase unemployment insurance by an extra $600 a week for four months and make billions available for small business grants and loan payments is so important—only Congress can make sure that those who are out of work right now, and the small businesses that employ them, do not go broke.

“It is vital that the federal government continue to follow the directives of medical professionals and public health experts, and not yield to the urge to ‘reopen’ the economy too soon. Doing so could cost lives and drastically deepen and prolong the damage to the economy. Stopping this pandemic and protecting human life is the most important thing we can do, and it is also the best thing we can do for the economy. I continue to urge all who can to please stay home.”

Read the JEC-Democrats’ recent brief, "Thursday’s Initial Unemployment Claims Will Be Key"—for additional context. See also Vice Chair Beyer’s recent op-ed, “We Need a Massive Economic Response to Counter the Threat of the Coronavirus.”

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.