Democratic leaders pointed to the lackluster November jobs report on Friday as the latest evidence that another substantial coronavirus relief package is needed for American families and workers still hurting from the pandemic.
Continue Reading Below
The Labor Department's payroll report, released Friday morning, showed the economy added just 245,000 jobs last month, sharply missing Wall Street's expectations and pointing to a slowdown in the labor market's recovery as a surge of new infections triggered a fresh wave of shutdowns by state and local governments.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement the report is evidence that "strong, urgent emergency relief is more important than ever," and called on his Republican colleagues to work together to reach an agreement before the end of the year.
“Senate Republicans are increasingly understanding this urgency, and Leader McConnell should hear their pleas as well as those of the millions of struggling American families,” he said. "This jobs report is blaring warning that a double-dip recession is looming and must be a wake-up call for anyone who is standing in the way of true bipartisan emergency relief."
November marked the fifth consecutive month that job growth has cooled since the economy added a combined 7.5 million workers in May and June. In total, the U.S. has recovered roughly half of the 22 million jobs lost during the first two months of the pandemic. There are still about 9.8 million more Americans out of work than there were in February before the crisis began.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the latest jobs figures are "alarming," and represent "another urgent warning that real relief is needed." She reiterated her support for the bipartisan $908 billion framework unveiled Tuesday by a group of bipartisan senators.
"Republicans and Democrats must immediately come together on a true, bipartisan effort to meaningfully address the health and economic crisis gripping our country," she said.
The bipartisan proposal, which has also been endorsed by the House Problem Solvers Caucus, allocates about $300 billion in funding for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, $240 billion in aid for state and local governments, $180 billion to extend boosted unemployment benefits at $300 per week through March and a temporary moratorium on COVID liability lawsuits to allow states enough time to design their own laws.
It would also funnel $16 billion into vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing, put $82 billion into education, and give $45 billion for transportation. The deal notably does not include a second stimulus check.
Still, with just five legislative days left on their calendar, it's unclear whether lawmakers will be able to overcome key sticking points that have confounded them since the summer.
President-elect Joe Biden, who has also thrown his weight behind the $908 billion deal, said the "grim" November jobs report shows an economic recovery that's "stalling."
"This dire jobs report is a snapshot from mid-November, before the surge in COVID cases and deaths in December as we head into a dark winter," he said.
Biden warned that key coronavirus aid programs are set to expire at the end of the year, potentially dealing another blow to workers already struggling because of the pandemic.
That includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created to provide jobless benefits to gig workers and others typically not eligible for benefits, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extends state unemployment benefits an extra 13 weeks. An estimated 12 million workers will be left with no income on Dec. 26 after those federal jobless aid programs lapse, according to one study published by the Century Foundation, a nonprofit think tank.
"The situation requires urgent action," he said. "Americans need help and they need it now."