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Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ilhan Omar

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Mich.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, attend a bill signing ceremony on June 17, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Progressives Says Strong Jobs Report Shows Democratic Relief Packages Worked

"What do you get when you restore government as a force for the common good?" asked Rep. Jamie Raskin. "An unprecedented economic recovery with 7.4 million jobs created in just 13 months."

Julia Conley

Economists and progressive lawmakers alike applauded the monthly jobs report released Friday, which showed hundreds of thousands of jobs added to the economy in February thanks to federal relief that "matched the scale" of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the past two years.

"Let's keep up this momentum by making historic investments into lowering the cost of child care, healthcare, housing, and so much more."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 678,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, bringing the total number since the end of 2020 to 7.9 million jobs.

"This is what Democrats are fighting for," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The unemployment rate and private-sector employment levels both showed "significant gains... for the 'right' reasons," said Elise Gould, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), meaning that workers are returning to the labor force rather than giving up on looking for a job.

"Unlike in the aftermath of the Great Recession, policymakers provided relief at the scale of the problem and did what was needed to spur a strong recovery this time around," Gould tweeted.

The employment gains, coming just two years after the pandemic forced temporary economic shutdowns and the jobless rate quickly shot up to its highest level since 1948, are directly linked to investments made by the CARES Act of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, said Gould's colleague, EPI president Heidi Shierholz.

"The importance of those policies to labor market healing following the worst recession in our lifetime cannot be overstated," said Shierholz.

The success of the packages—which invested more than $4 trillion in the economy, provided grants and other investments to small businesses, and sent relief checks to households, among other provisions—demonstrates the benefits of restoring government "as a force for the common good," tweeted Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

"The American Rescue Plan is working!" added Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Both lawmakers said the jobs report offers the latest evidence that offering far-reaching relief to Americans—such as the expanded Child Tax Credit, direct payments, and extended unemployment benefits—strengthens the economy and that Congress must provide more relief by passing President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda.

"Let's keep up this momentum by making historic investments into lowering the cost of child care, healthcare, housing, and so much more," Jayapal said.

Economists and other observers noted that people of color have been largely left behind in the economic recovery, with Shierholz pointing out that the unemployment rate is currently 6.6% for Black Americans and 3.3% for white workers "due to the impact of structural racism."

"Today's job numbers demonstrate that smart, sustained investments in people and families are critical to building a healthy, resilient economy for all. This is especially urgent for Black and brown workers who continue to be left behind in our recovery," said Mike Mitchell, director of policy and research at Groundwork Collaborative. "Our government can and must do more to continue our economic comeback and ensure our economy is working for all of us."

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