JEC Releases New Report on How the Coronavirus is Worsening America’s Mental Health Crisis

More than 1 in 3 of American adults report symptoms of depressive and/or anxiety disorder.

Oct 15 2020

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee—led by Vice Chair Don Beyer (D-VA)—today released a new report on how America's failure to contain the coronavirus is taking a toll on Americans’ mental health.

Thirty-seven percent of American adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder—triple the percentage that reported such symptoms in 2019—according to a large recent survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase was especially high among Latinos, who have the highest rates of any racial group, as well as Blacks, young people and essential workers.

The likely causes of this high rate are the public health crisis and the resulting recession. Sixty-five percent of Americans surveyed report that they fear that they or their loves ones will contract the coronavirus and 70% surveyed report that they fear that the coronavirus will negatively impact their household income.

Meanwhile, the substantial economic pressures that Americans are facing have yet to subside: 22 million jobs disappeared this spring, more than 12 million workers remain unemployed and another 5 million have given up and left the labor force. One-third of adult Americans surveyed report having trouble paying usual household expenses.

A June survey conducted by the CDC found that more than 1 in 10 U.S. adults (10.7%) had considered suicide in the past 30 days, more than double the share in 2019 (4.7%).

Vice Chair Beyer, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan House Suicide Prevention Task Force:

“Over 90 million Americans are reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression—likely the result of fears that they or their loved ones will get sick and die from the coronavirus or be unable to pay their bills because of the resulting recession. Many of these Americans and others have not seen their friends or family for months or have had to attend funerals via video conference. It is no surprise that we are seeing unprecedented rates of mental illness."

“Congress must do much more to help before it is too late. This means ensuring that mental health providers can keep their doors open and that access and affordability issues do not prevent those in need of their care from walking through those doors. In addition to their financial security, the health and wellbeing of Americans should be our top priority right now. If it is, then we will need a much stronger pandemic response. The country deserves nothing less.”

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce: 

“The isolation and stress of the coronavirus pandemic is taking a mental toll on our fellow Americans. While the Trump Administration has failed to handle the dual crises of COVID-19 and rising suicide rates, the House Health Subcommittee that I chair is stepping up to the challenge by passing ten suicide prevention bills, including bills led by Congressman Beyer, to better identify and treat those at risk for suicide. While we face troubling times as a nation, this Joint Economic Committee report and the bills passed by the House provide a comprehensive plan to prevent suicide.”

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Mental Health Caucus: 

“We have been sounding the alarm for months about how the COVID-19 pandemic has been worsening an existing mental health crisis. This new report brings greater visibility to the issue, giving it the attention it deserves, and proves why we must increase funding for mental health services nationwide."

"While Hispanic Americans, Black Americans, young people, and essential workers may be experiencing higher rates of mental illness during this pandemic, fear of the coronavirus, isolation from loved ones, and economic stress are taking a heavy toll on the mental well-being of all of our communities, and mental health effects are likely to have long-term consequences for children."

"I thank the Joint Economic Committee for releasing this report so the public can more fully understand the mental health challenges associated with the pandemic and that Congress can work together to ensure life-saving services for everyone in need.”

Dan Gillison, CEO, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

“We appreciate Congressman Beyer’s leadership and applaud the Committee for highlighting the need for increased funding for community-based services. The data show the COVID-19 pandemic is having a profoundly negative impact on the mental health of our communities and is expected to worsen over time. It’s going to take strong leadership and a coordinated effort to tackle this mental health crisis. We need to work together to help create a community where no one feels alone in their struggle.”

Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America

“Mental Health America has seen an unprecedented rise in the numbers of people taking our online mental health screens since the start of the pandemic, with equally unprecedented numbers – more than a half million – experiencing anxiety, depression, or psychosis. These effects are worse in young people and among people of color. And a higher percentage of our help-seekers with depression – 37 percent – are regularly thinking of self-harm or suicide than ever before.” 

Additional findings included in the report are:

  • Although young adults (aged 18 to 29) are less likely to be hospitalized or die from the coronavirus, almost half report having symptoms of depressive and/or generalized anxiety disorder—the highest rate of mental illness of any age group.
  • Blacks and Latinos have reported some of the highest rates of mental illness during the pandemic likely because they are bearing the brunt of its health and economic effects. A CDC survey conducted in June found that Blacks and Latinos were about twice as likely, or more, than Whites to have seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days.
  • States in the South and the West that have the highest rates of people reporting symptoms of mental illness also have the highest rates of people reporting economic insecurity. 
  • The congressional response to the pandemic has included little funding for the prevention and treatment of mental illness. 

Congressman Beyer's work on mental health 

Vice Chair Beyer is a leader in Congress on mental health. Last month, two of his suicide prevention bills passed the House and both were bipartisan. The first bill, the Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act, co-led by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT), would create a communications campaign recommended by suicide prevention advocates and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to raise Americans’ awareness about the three-digit suicide lifeline phone number 9-8-8, suicide prevention resources and how to address suicide with family and friends. The second bill, the Suicide Lifeline Improvement Act, sponsored by Vice Chair Beyer’s fellow House Suicide Prevention Task Force co-chair Rep. John Katko (R-NY), would increase federal funding for local suicide crisis centers and improve the quality of service they provide. 

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.

JEC, CHC Release New Report on the Economic State of the Hispanic Community and Why Hispanics are Key to the Nation’s Recovery

Hispanic economic contributions—estimated at $2.6 trillion in GDP—are critical for growth and a more inclusive U.S. economy.

Sep 30 2020

Washington, D.C.—As the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), led by Vice Chair Don Beyer (D-VA), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Chair Joaquin Castro (D-TX), today released a new report about the economic state of the Hispanic community, the impact of the coronavirus and why the community is key to re-building the economy after the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the Hispanic community was making progress economically; the number of Hispanic business owners was growing, as was Hispanic homeownership and college graduation rates. However, the pandemic has halted this progress and devastated the Hispanic community in terms of lives lost and the economic impact. Hispanics are more likely to contract and die from the coronavirus and to work in the industries that lost the most jobs since the pandemic began.

In April, almost a month after President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, the unemployment rate for Hispanics spiked from 4.4% to 18.9%, before dropping to 10.5% in August. More than 3 in 5 Hispanic households have lost earnings due to the pandemic and more than 1 and 3 have experienced food insecurity.

Vice Chair Beyer, JEC:

“The Hispanic community plays an outsized role in U.S. economic growth—driving entrepreneurship, consumer spending and several industries—and we need them to play an outsized role in the nation’s recovery.

“We cannot do what we often do, and what we did after the Great Recession—declare that this recession is over if economic indicators are headed in the right direction for the nation, but the wrong direction for the Hispanic community. This is especially true if the number of Hispanics working low-wage jobs with no benefits remains the same after the pandemic, or worse—increases.

“While the Hispanic community has long shown resiliency over the years to economic ups and downs and immense inequities, they cannot be left to go it alone. Federal programs and policies passed to aid the recovery must be inclusive—available to all regardless of immigration status, including domestic, agricultural and gig workers.

“As the report reveals, our country will only reach its full economic potential if the Hispanic community reaches theirs, and the same is true for other communities of color. The Hispanic community was making progress before the pandemic, and—if we get the recovery right—it should continue to make progress long after it is over.”

Chair Castro, CHC:

“Latino communities are essential to our economy and recovery. The numbers speak for themselves: Latinos in the U.S. would be the world 8th largest economy if we were a country, and we’re driving growth with our productivity and entrepreneurial spirit. Latino workers and families are also suffering during this pandemic with higher rates of unemployment and lower levels of wealth to fall back on. This coronavirus crisis has not only exposed the economic inequality in our society, but also exacerbated the divide—and it’s up to policymakers to tackle these challenges with facts and reforms. That’s why this report from the Joint Economic Committee is so important, and I commend Chairman Beyer for his leadership.”

Jerry Porras, Executive Director of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior and Change at the Stanford Graduate School of Business:

“The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Latino Business Action Network, conducts annual national surveys of Latino-owned businesses to better understand both the opportunities and challenges facing this fastest growing segment of the small business ecosystem.

“Our research shows that for the majority of Latino-owned businesses, liquidity was a challenge in pre-pandemic times and is even more of one today. Presently, 86% of Latino-owned businesses cannot survive beyond 6 months with current cash reserves. We estimate that lacking cash on hand and additional relief aid, we may see the loss of over two million jobs if Latino employer businesses have to permanently close before the end of the year.

“The research report released by the JEC and CHC highlights the broad and significant impact Latinos have on the U.S. economy based on a comprehensive review of rigorous data sources. The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative is pleased to contribute insights on Latino-owned businesses, which we have been researching closely since 2015.”

Andres Tobar, the Executive Director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, which is in Vice Chair Beyer’s District:

“Among those who have been hardest hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic are the day laborers I work with every day. Jobs placements for day laborers have dramatically decreased since the beginning of the pandemic—making their search for work even harder than it was before. Add to that the fact that day laborers are excluded from the direct cash payments included in the CARES Act as well as unemployment insurance and other federal, state and local benefits, and it is not hard to see what life has been like for members of this community.

“Since 2000, the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) has tried to make life a little bit easier for day laborers and their families and this has continued throughout the pandemic. In addition to helping day laborers find work, SEEC has also been helping to make sure they have clothes on their backs and food on their tables, and we could not do this without the help of foundations and local businesses, including many local Hispanic-owned businesses.

“I would like to thank my congressman, Vice Chair Beyer, for his leadership on this report. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it is important to remember what this report makes so clear—that every member of the Hispanic community, no matter where they work, is important to the future of our nation.”

Additional findings included in the report are:

  • Pre-pandemic:
    • The number of Hispanic business owners grew at 34% compared to an increase of just one percent among non-Hispanic business owners.
    • In 2018, Hispanics accounted for more than 60% of the increase in homeownership.
    • Hispanic college attainment nearly doubled in the last two decades to 19% having a BA or higher in 2019, but the Hispanic-White college gap persists.
  • Currently:
    • Hispanic GDP would rank as the 8th largest in the world—at $2.6 trillion in 2018—if it were measured against independent countries.
    • The median net worth of Hispanic households is one-eighth that of White households ($20,600 compared to $171,000).
    • Hispanic Americans are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as Whites.
    • The uninsured rate for Hispanic children is more than two times higher than that of White children.
    • Nearly half of all the COVID-19 deaths among American children are Hispanic (45%).

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.

JEC Releases First Congressional Report on the Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the U.S. Child Care Industry

The lack of child care has become one of the key factors holding back the U.S recovery.

Sep 25 2020

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a new report showing how the coronavirus pandemic has devastated child care providers in a way that could permanently damage the industry—making child care even less accessible and affordable to American parents and their children.

Before the pandemic, nearly 12 million American children age five and younger were in some form of child care in the United States. However, since the pandemic, about half of child care providers have been forced to shut down at some point and about 1 in 5 child care workers have been left without a job, cutting off this essential service to millions of American families. Even at child care providers that are open, enrollment is down 67 percent according to a survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

The report finds that one of the key factors holding back the U.S. recovery is that more parents, particularly mothers, are having to choose between going to work and ensuring their children have safe, quality care. According to a recent poll, 13 percent of parents have been forced to reduce hours or quit their jobs because of problems with child care, losing a full day of work per week on average.

Additional findings included in the report are:

  • The United States invests less than half as much as European countries in child care, as a percentage of GDP, ranking third from the bottom of the 37 OECD countries.
  • Parents in the United States who have children in child care spend on average 23 percent of their net income to pay for it. In many states, parents spend more on child care than they would on a college education.
  • In 2018, more than 50 percent of American families with young children lived in “child care deserts”—areas where the demand for licensed child care far outpaced the local supply. This is particularly true for middle-income families who make too much to qualify for child care subsidies and not enough to pay for child care without such support.
  • As of August, approximately 214,000 child care workers—one-fifth of the pre-pandemic level—are still out of a job. In addition, more than four-fifths of child care providers report that if they don’t receive additional public assistance they expect to close permanently.
  • Since child care is a direct service, providers can’t cut costs like other businesses do by outsourcing services or entire jobs or replacing them with technology. In addition, necessary state laws requiring specific staff-to-child ratios and indoor and outdoor space ratios further limit providers’ ability to cut costs. 
  • Accessible, affordable child care is critical to the economy because it makes it more equitable—by allowing parents, particularly those who are mothers, single, and/or low-income, to work—and contributes to economic growth by increasing productivity and improving the life chances of children, especially those who are disadvantaged.

Vice Chair Beyer (D-VA):

“I know firsthand that parenting requires you to wear many hats, and I cannot imagine adding ‘school teacher’ and ‘child care provider’ to the list during a global pandemic.

“Workers cannot get back to work if there is nowhere to send their children. This is particularly true for working mothers who are more likely to bear the brunt of closed schools and child care providers. In fact, because of the impact that the coronavirus has had on the child care industry, a generation of social and economic gains made by women may be rolled back in a matter of months! Many working mothers have had to cut back their hours or quit their jobs altogether, which will have lasting, long-term impacts on their careers, lifetime earnings and ability to retire.

“Our nation should treat child care like most other developed countries do—like a public good, not a private benefit. Doing so would mean doubling our investment in child care, so parents do not have to choose between going to work and ensuring their children have safe, quality care.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Senate Sponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act (S.3874):

“If we’re serious about ensuring families can get back to work, we absolutely cannot overlook the critical role of child care. We have long had a child care crisis in this country—but right now, as our economy is rocked by the impact of the coronavirus, our child care sector is struggling to even keep its doors open. If the federal government doesn’t step up, we could lose an estimated 4.5 million child care slots, and leave parents without the child care they need to return to work once the economy opens. Congress must pass the Child Care is Essential Act to provide critical support to ensure providers can safely reopen and operate, and help working families—especially Black families, and other families of color—afford the child care they need.”

Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor:

“Families were struggling to find affordable child care long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the child care industry is on the brink of collapse. This report illustrates the need for an immediate and significant investment to keep child care providers open and cut costs for families. Without a strong child care system, parents cannot return to work, businesses cannot reopen, and children lose invaluable learning opportunities in their early years. Congress must pass a comprehensive coronavirus relief package that includes robust child care funding to support children, families, and the healthy development of our economy.”

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Co-Chair of the Congressional Baby Caucus and the House Sponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act (H.R. 7027):

“Time and again child care has been last in line, when it needs to be at the front. We have helped to bailout other sectors, and child care should be no different. We know that without emergency funding to save the child care sector, families will be unable to return to work, as the report illustrates. Lack of affordable child care was an obstacle many families faced prior to the pandemic, so going back to normal is not an option. We need to ensure we have high-quality, affordable providers to see families through the pandemic and beyond. I am so proud that my Child Care Is Essential Act passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, and it is imperative that the Senate takes this bill up immediately. We all want to do right by our children, let’s make sure they can be taken care of in a safe environment, so their parents can also get back to work.”

Chad Dunkley, CEO of New Horizon Academy, a Child Care and Early Education Provider:

“We must use the current crisis to reimagine child care in our country—this pandemic laid bare the critical role it plays in our economy and the lives of working families. This is work you can’t outsource, and it’s highly labor-intensive. The argument shouldn’t be about making child care cheaper, but about investing in it as a foundational support for the economy of today and tomorrow. Financial support is needed now to ensure child care survives the current crisis. Then we need broad, systemic change so parents and providers aren’t continually left to piece this puzzle together on their own.”

More Information About the Economic Impact of Child Care

Childcare is critical to the nation’s economy.

The child care industry produced over $50 billion in total revenue in 2017, with employer firms accounting for 83 percent of the revenue ($42 billion). However, as in any sector of the economy, the value of the child care industry is more than the sum of its parts—that is, the value the industry adds to the economy is more than its revenue. Child care industry spending spills over to other sectors through consumer spending by child care workers, as well as purchases of goods and services by child care providers to support the direct operations of their facilities.

In addition, there is a significant body of research demonstrating that investments in early education pay off across children’s lifetimes, especially when those investments are targeted toward disadvantaged children. This is because such investments help to increase high school graduation and college attendance, decrease crime, prevent teenage births, reduce the need for special education and lower the share of students forced to repeat a grade.

Economists at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve have shown that investments in early education are “the most efficient means to boost the productivity of the workforce 15 to 20 years down the road.” Their cost-benefit analyses of multiple early education interventions showed annual rates of return, adjusted for inflation, ranging between 7 percent to over 20 percent, or $3 to $17 per dollar invested.

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.

Washington, D.C.—Today, at a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) hearing on the economic impact of America’s failure to contain coronavirus, Vice Chair Beyer will explain that the primary reason why the economy is in such bad shape is because President Trump failed from the very beginning to implement a coordinated, national plan to contain the coronavirus.

According to Dr. Ashish K. Jha, one of two Democratic witnesses who will testify at the hearing, such a plan could have prevented a majority of American deaths from the coronavirus.

The nation’s top economists almost universally say that the number one priority for the economy is to contain the coronavirus. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee, the second Democratic witness, has put it this way: “the number one rule of virus economics is that you have to stop the virus before you can do anything about economics.”

Vice Chair Beyer:

“Tragically, no one person in our country is more responsible than the person who should be leading the fight to contain the coronavirus—the President of the United States.

“President Trump’s record on the coronavirus is a stunning mix of incompetence, ignorance and callous disregard for human life. He has not contained the coronavirus, but has unleashed it. As a result, many more lives will be lost. And in the long term, the economy will suffer.

“The President’s failure to make even the most meager effort to contain the coronavirus is his economic legacy.”

(Vice Chair Beyer’s written opening statement can be found here.)

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health:

“At this most precarious and uncertain time in our nation’s and our world’s history, we owe
it to our fellow citizens to act expeditiously and steadfastly in our quest to end the COVID-19
pandemic.

“Nine months since our first confirmed case, we continue to feel the painful effects of a
disjointed and, at times, absent, federal response to the pandemic in this country. Tens of millions of Americans remain out of work, millions are sick, and hundreds of thousands are dead.

“We have no national testing strategy, receive muddled guidance from our federal health agencies, and our economy is in its worst state since the Great Depression of 1929. Let me be clear: this does not have to continue.”

(Dr. Jha's written testimony can be found here.)

Dr. Austan D. Goolsbee, Robert P. Gwinn Professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business:

“It’s important for everyone to understand that decisions about the economy are not made by mayors and governors and presidents. People make decisions about whether they feel safe and that is what drives the economy. The virus is the boss.

“In my research with Chad Syverson, we got data on consumer visits to 2.5 million businesses across the country in 110 different industries. We wanted to know how important lockdowns were for the unprecedented collapse in consumer activity during the outbreak of the pandemic.

“The problem is, when the disease is spreading, people stay home, the economy craters and the local authorities impose lockdowns. This can make it look like lockdown decisions are driving things but it’s misleading because the policy itself is not the driver. The virus is.”

(Dr. Goolsbee's written testimony can be found here.)

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 the Vice Chair.

 

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 Federal Reserve announced that it will leave interest rates near 0% through at least 2023: 

"Even as the Federal Reserve upgraded its economic outlook from June, the central bank made it clear it will take years to dig out from the economic hole we are in, pledging to hold rates at near zero for at least three years. Moreover, Chairman Powell again emphasized the substantial uncertainty facing the economy and what policymakers can do to change it—indeed, those improved forecasts assume additional fiscal action. Clearly, we have much work ahead of us to rebuild the economy. Monetary policy, by itself, will be insufficient. Congress must play a greater role to provide the support people need as we work to contain the coronavirus and rebuild the economy."

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.

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 1.4 million in August, a deceleration in job growth from the numbers reported in June and July.

BLS also found that the unemployment rate in August fell to 8.4%. The unemployment rate was13.0% for Black workers and 10.5% for Hispanic workers.

Before Labor Day 2019, total non-farm employment in the United States was 151.2 million. Total non-farm employment is currently 140.9 million—10 million fewer jobs fewer than at the same time last year.

“American workers have lost a lot of ground since last Labor Day. Ten million jobs have disappeared. Almost 14 million Americans are forced to collect unemployment. And 12 million Americans have lost their employer-sponsored health coverage—in the middle of a life-threatening pandemic.

“At the convention last week, President Trump and his party were celebrating as if the economy was booming and the coronavirus had been contained. They are strangely out of touch with what is really going on in America.

“During sworn testimony Tuesday before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that restoring the federal unemployment benefits supplement and direct payments to families is critical to the nation’s recovery. Democrats could not agree more, which is why the $3 trillion Heroes Act passed by the House in May restores both of these relief measures.

“Now, nearly four months later with 40 million people facing eviction, Senate Republicans are still hemming and hawing about how much is too much relief to give Americans and their families. For whatever reason Senate Republicans cannot see what the rest of us are seeing: as relief from the federal government has slowed—or stopped altogether in some cases—so has the recovery.”

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.

September 3, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Labor Department statistics this morning showed that initial unemployment claims rose again, for the fourth week in a row, to just under 1.6 million total. This report marks the 24th week in a row with more initial jobless claims than any week of the Great Recession, and points again to a stalling economic recovery amid declining government stimulus.

While some headlines wrongly reported the figure “fell” last week due to a change in DOL’s method of seasonal adjustment, the more accurate non seasonally adjusted figures and the inclusion of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims show that the number rose significantly, again. American workers who file unemployment claims through PUA, including gig workers, self-employed, contractors, and more also support families facing desperate situations and deserve to be counted and included in coverage of the country’s worsening economic crisis.

“This week’s jobs data continues to show a weakening recovery and an economy in need of greatly increased government stimulus,” said Rep. Beyer. “The increase in self-employed workers, gig workers, contractors, and others filing new PUA claims is especially troubling and points to the enormous amount of need for increased assistance. The President’s smoke and mirrors executive actions have done little to help. The White House must stop posturing and return to the negotiating table so we can move forward on providing real relief for American families.”

As the White House continues to stall negotiations on further economic stimulus, with the White House Chief of Staff saying “we’re not going to negotiate here” earlier this week, the first state to implement the President’s cut-in-half enhanced unemployment benefits said Wednesday that the fund providing those benefits may already be depleted.

Rep. Beyer serves as the Vice Chair and top Member of the House on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie enhanced federal unemployment benefits to public health crisis declarations and economic conditions.

August 28, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Don Beyer today blasted the Trump Administration’s announcement that it would begin deferring withholding payroll taxes in September for federal employees, a move that could hit thousands with unanticipated large tax bills next year. Beyer, who represents the largest number of federal employees of any U.S. Representative, serves on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, which has jurisdiction over tax policy.

“The Trump Administration’s plan to initiate payroll tax deferrals for civil servants treats the federal workforce as a guinea pig for a bad policy that businesses already rejected as ‘unworkable,’” said Beyer. “This payroll tax deferral does not really put money in workers’ pockets, it simply sets up the members of the federal workforce who can least afford it for a big tax bill that many will not expect. Like Donald Trump’s other economic executive orders, this will not provide actual relief to workers, it is just another gimmick intended to give the appearance of action as the White House continues to stall negotiations for a real stimulus package. The legal authority for this announcement is at best dubious, the policy will do more harm than good, and I intend to press the Administration about this.”

The announcement on payroll tax deferral for federal employees, made in a memo published by the National Finance Center, followed President Trump’s Executive Order “deferring payroll tax obligations” issued on August 8. Business groups previously rejected the order as “unfair” and “unworkable.”

The National Finance Center’s (NFC) legal authority to issue such a proclamation in the absence of guidance from the Treasury Department is highly dubious.

The Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary wrote to members of the Senate earlier this week that the Trump Administration’s plan to defer payroll tax contributions would force Social Security benefit cuts by 2021 and “permanently deplete” a key Social Security trust fund by 2023.

August 25, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Monday marked two weeks since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted states would have the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment program created by Executive Order up and running within two weeks, but only two states—representing less than 10 percent of national continuing unemployment insurance claims—reported having actually distributed aid through the program. Even in those states only a fraction of eligible recipients received payments to date, so the actual figure is likely significantly lower.

Guidance from the Department of Labor and FEMA indicated that states approved for LWA are only guaranteed to receive three weeks of the cut-in-half unemployment benefit, dependent on the level of funding remaining in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). According to FEMA the DRF “fund(s) eligible response and recovery efforts associated with domestic major disasters and emergencies;” major disasters have been declared recently in Iowa, California, and several gulf states.

“Economists, governors, and workers widely agree that President Trump’s smoke and mirrors executive orders simply are not good enough,” said Rep. Don Beyer, Vice Chair of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. “It has been a month now since Senate Republicans shamefully allowed enhanced unemployment benefits to expire. The American people need real relief that fights the pandemic and puts money in workers’ pockets – posturing and gimmicks will not solve the enormous problems they face. If the White House does not get serious about the level of aid that is needed it will imperil the economic recovery.”

The White House has continued to resist compromise on a new economic relief package, and growing numbers of American families are suffering without the help they need from the federal government. The Administration began the week with more false claims about the economy and boasts about the stock market, but clear warning signs abound:

Washington Post: Debt, eviction and hunger: Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish

CNBC: Economists see a chance of a double-dip recession, survey shows

Bloomberg: Millions of U.S. Jobs to Be Lost for Years, IRS Projections Show

Politico: Economy hurting after Congress fails to act on stimulus

Washington Post: President Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress on stimulus is offering only limited economic relief

Business Insider: Trump says the economy is quickly recovering from the pandemic. But 4 jarring statistics blow a hole in his argument.

New York Times: Unemployment Claims Rise as Rollout of $300 Benefit Lags

Associated Press: Rise in jobless claims reflects still-struggling US economy

CNBC: The rise in jobless claims may be a warning to Congress that the economy needs stimulus

CBS: Economy is slumping again as Washington puts stimulus on hold

Financial Times: Trump’s executive orders provide little money for jobless

Forbes: $300 Weekly Unemployment Payments Are ‘Too Little Too Late’ To Prop Up August Spending, Goldman Sachs Says

USA Today: 'We shouldn’t have to beg': Americans struggle without unemployment aid as Congress stalls on extending benefits

Politico: ‘Not just a low-wage recession’: White-collar workers feel coronavirus squeeze

Atlantic: The Pandemic Recession Is Approaching a Dire Turning Point

Rep. Beyer serves as the Vice Chair and top Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie enhanced federal unemployment benefits to public health crisis declarations and economic conditions.