Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair 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 661,000 in September and the unemployment rate fell to 7.9%. The unemployment rate was 12.1% for Black workers and 10.3% for Hispanic workers.

Today’s report follows recent remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said that the actual unemployment rate could be 3% higher if workers who have dropped out of the workforce altogether are counted. The BLS report reveals in addition to the 12.6 million U.S. workers counted as unemployed, 5.2 million have left the labor force since February. Moreover, among those counted as employed, 6.3 million are working part-time even though they would prefer full-time work, an increase of 2.0 million since February.

Additional analysis finds that if labor force dropouts since February were counted as unemployed, the unemployed rate in September would be 3.2% higher – over 11% overall – when also including the small percentage of misclassified workers (0.4%) noted in the BLS report today.

The BLS report found that job growth has further decelerated, steadily dropping from 4.8 million net new jobs in June to 661,000 new jobs in September. This followed a massive loss of nearly 21 million jobs in April. The economy has recovered about half of the jobs lost, but there are still 10.7 million fewer jobs than in February.

“The reality is even worse than this,” said Beyer. “In addition to those counted as unemployed, 5.2 million Americans have given up looking for work because the coronavirus remains out of control. If those who left the labor force were counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be higher than 10%.  Consumers are not buying enough, and businesses are not hiring enough. Half of the jobs the economy lost in March and April haven’t come back. This is no reason to celebrate.

“Much of the blame falls on the president, who has failed in every way to contain the coronavirus. In fact, he has made it worse – goading governors into relaxing social distancing guidelines even as public health experts warned the cases and deaths would explode. He hoped to rescue his economic record before Election Day by urging people to go back to work before it was safe. But we’ve ended up with 200,000 Americans dead, over 40,000 new confirmed cases a day, and estimates that the situation will get much worse before it gets better.

“Because of President Trump, the economy remains exceptionally weak while the coronavirus rages on. Economists tell us that the most important thing for the economy is to control the coronavirus – but the president has refused to use the vast power of the presidency to even try. Americans will pay an extremely high price well after Election Day. This will be Donald Trump’s economic legacy.

“Some Americans are paying a disproportionally high price for the president’s failure. Today’s report finds again that unemployment rates for Black and Hispanic workers are much higher – with the rate for Black Americans approaching double what it is for white Americans. Younger Americans also face much higher unemployment rates. Those without a high school diploma do even worse. The president will leave behind him an America that is even more divided and inequitable than ever before.”

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 to 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 Vice Chair.