Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 379,000 in February and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%.

The unemployment rate was 9.9% for Black workers and 8.5% for Hispanic workers. For men and women, the unemployment rate was 6.3% and 6.1%, respectively. If labor force participation had remained at February 2020 rates, there would be 2.7 million more women age 20 and over in the workforce and 2.3 million more men. (See the Twitter-sized graphic below.) 

“The economy is still down more than 9 million jobs since the pandemic began. And if we continue to add jobs to our economy at this rate, it will take years before employment returns to pre-pandemic levels. This is particularly true for women as the impact of the recession has not been gender-neutral.

“In addition to being overrepresented in hospitality, dining, retail and other industries that have been crushed by the coronavirus, millions of women have had to leave the workforce altogether because of school and child care closures—an issue the JEC Democrats explored in a recent report. Others who have jobs that allow them to work from home are taking care of children and aging parents while maintaining a full work schedule.

“If our economy does not fully recover, some of the gains women have made in the workforce may be threatened. That is one of the reasons why the robust relief provided by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is so important, and why such relief must continue until the pandemic is over.

“This month is Women’s History Month, a time when we recognize the barriers that women have broken throughout history and recommit to challenging those that remain in their way—the gender wage gap, patchy paid sick leave policies and childcare that is unaffordable or inaccessible, among others. These problems have become even more salient during the pandemic, and we need to do more to address them.”

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