Latest jobs report proves people still really need COVID relief

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The economy added just 49,000 jobs in January, which economists say is proof that the recovery stalling out.

January's jobs report released on Friday had dismal news for the economic recovery, showing the economy added just 49,000 jobs and that 10 million people remain out of work.

The report also revised previous monthly jobs numbers downward, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics saying, "employment in November and December combined was 159,000 lower than previously reported."

The jobs report — the final one from Donald Trump's time in office — gives credence to arguments from President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats that Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is urgently needed to help jumpstart the dismal economy Biden inherited from his predecessor.

"A brutal jobs report for January. Anemic jobs growth, big downward revisions to November and December. Large numbers of workers exiting the workforce. We still have 10 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. It all points to the need for Congress to pass big, bold relief," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), a member of the Joint Economic Committee, tweeted Friday morning after the jobs report was released. 

It knocks back arguments from Senate Republicans, who have said that more virus relief is not yet needed and are seeking to get Biden to scale back his relief package proposal — a request Biden has refused.

Republicans say they worry the legislation will add too much to the federal deficit, a concern the same Republicans did not have when passing a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans that added at least $1.5 trillion to the deficit.

Economists say the latest jobs report data actually proves that more relief is needed, including for funding for state and local governments that Republicans oppose.

"Another grim finding is that we're down 1.3 million state & local government jobs since last Feb — most of it (nearly 1.0 million) in education. THIS IS A MINDBOGGLING UNFORCED ERROR. Fortunately, given the D majority in the Senate, Congress can pass aid to state & local govts," Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, tweeted of the latest jobs report.

The dismal jobs report comes the same day Senate Democrats advanced a budget that would allow the chamber to pass Biden's relief bill without any GOP votes — allowing Democrats to sidestep Republican attempts to block the relief bill.

Biden's plan would authorize another round of direct cash payments, increase the weekly unemployment insurance payments by $100 and extend them through September, restore paid family leave for those caring for children during coronavirus quarantine closures, give more aid to small businesses, and provide relief funding to state and local governments, among other things.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.