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 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported that 984,192 workers filed regular first-time unemployment claims (not seasonally adjusted) for the week ending August 1. This is the first time in 20 weeks that new regular unemployment claims have dropped below one million.

The DOL found that an additional 655,707 workers filed for benefits under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and others. In total, more than 1.6 million people filed new unemployment claims last week.

“Senate Republicans sat on their hands for almost three months after House Democrats passed the Heroes Act in May. They knew 30 million unemployed Americans would lose $600 a week, among other benefits, on July 31—yet they did nothing. Six days later—still nothing. The timing could not be worse for these Americans and their families.

“Rent and mortgage payments were due on August 1. Grocery prices are rising at the fastest rate in decades. Food stamp applications are surging in almost every state. Yet, Republicans do nothing and complain that we are ‘paying people not to work.’ That is a fundamental misunderstanding of unemployment benefits—people receive benefits because they cannot find work, not because they ‘do not feel like working.’

“Senate Republicans are playing games with people’s lives and livelihoods. That is exactly why we need to use a data-based approach that takes the politics out of this process and puts enhanced unemployment benefits and other relief programs on autopilot.”

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.