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 28 reached a record 6.6 million—breaking last week’s record of 3.3 million.
This is the highest number of unemployment claims filed in one week since the Department of Labor started keeping track, and worse than anything we saw during the Great Recession. For additional context, read JEC’s latest brief.
“I built a family-owned business in Northern Virginia over the course of four decades so I know what it’s like to worry about paying your bills and your employees. My heart breaks for small businesses and the people they employ.
“For some small businesses, the coronavirus is the straw that broke the camel’s back. For others, business was booming but they’ve been ordered by state or local governments to close temporarily or have to because they’ve lost so many customers.
“No matter the scenario the coronavirus has meant permanent or temporary closure for small businesses across the country resulting in millions being without work for the foreseeable future. Couple these layoffs with the ones we’re seeing from big businesses and it’s no wonder that we’ve seen unprecedented unemployment claims for the last two weeks—unprecedented unemployment claims that should be a wake-up call to anyone who thinks Congress’s work is done.
“In a crisis like this only government can help ensure small businesses and the people they employ don’t go broke, and Congress needs to act now to ensure that they have the support they need if the crisis extends into the summer or beyond.
“The grants and loans to small businesses, expanded unemployment benefits, direct cash payments to families and other provisions in the first three response packages will help stop the free fall small businesses are experiencing, but more will be needed to ensure that they don’t crash.”
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.