Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 49,000 in January and the unemployment fell to 6.3%. The unemployment rate was 9.2% for Black workers and 8.6% for Hispanic workers.

The number of long-term unemployed, who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, remained at 4 million and accounts for almost 40% of unemployed workers. 

“Almost a year into the pandemic, and job growth continues to be shaky and slow—resulting in a U.S. economy that has 9.9 million fewer jobs than in February and an unemployment rate that is almost double what it was then. 

“Behind these numbers are millions of Americans who are wondering if they are ever going to return to work and how they are supposed to take care of their families until they do. This is why Congress must provide the American people with robust relief now—right now, and why such relief should continue until the pandemic is over.

“If Congress can pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan with bipartisan support, great. But, if not, we must do what is needed to rescue millions of Americans who are on the verge of hunger and homelessness—as well as businesses and state and local governments that are struggling to stay afloat too.

“According to CBO, if Congress does not pass additional relief, the U.S. will not return to pre-pandemic employment levels until 2024. There is no reason to put the American people through that sort of pain when relief is right at our fingertips.”