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Robust July jobs report shows American Rescue Plan is working

Photo credit: Getty.
By AFSCME Staff ·

The American economy added 943,000 jobs in July, according to the latest monthly jobs report, the most in nearly a year. This included 230,000 local government jobs that were made possible thanks in part to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), according to AFSCME research.

“With the nation experiencing robust public sector job growth last month, it is clear that the American Rescue Plan is having a huge impact,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a statement. “Investment in public services is putting people back to work, breathing life into the economy and allowing us to continue recovering from the pandemic.”

We’ve come back a long way, even as much remains to be done. By April 2020, just two months after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy had shed some 20 million jobs. The unemployment rate, at more than 14%, was higher than at any other time since the Great Depression of nearly a century before.

The progress we’ve made, especially since President Joe Biden signed the ARP in March, is a testament to what we can achieve as a nation when we elect strong leaders. It is a lesson in the power of working families when we make our voices heard. And it’s an example of what AFSCME members, who fought hard for the ARP and made it possible, can achieve through a strong union.

Since the start of the pandemic, AFSCME members have been on the front lines of the war against the virus, fighting to keep essential services going in our communities while keeping each other safe. We’ve treated patients, saved lives and cared for our most vulnerable. We fought hard for federal funding because we needed it to keep serving our communities.

The ARP included $350 billion in funding for states, cities, towns and schools.

The latest jobs numbers are proof that the ARP is doing a lot of good to get us back to where we need to be. But there are still 807,000 fewer government jobs now than in February 2020, at the start of the pandemic, according to AFSCME research.

The need for ongoing action is especially urgent as COVID-19 cases continue to rise exponentially, driven by the delta variant.

“State and local leaders must continue to invest in public services, as well as rehire and expand our public service workforce,” Saunders said. “This is key to rebuilding our communities.”

In addition, Congress must further legislate to make it easier, not harder, for workers across the country to form strong unions.

They must pass the PRO Act, which would give workers greater ability to form unions and protect them from retaliation by employers, and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which would establish a minimum nationwide standard of collective bargaining for all public service workers.

Congress must also advance serious investments in physical and human infrastructure – from roads and bridges to child care and paid leave – to create good jobs with strong labor protections. These investments must be paid for by requiring wealthy individuals and corporations to pay their fair share.

“We’ve come a long way since the depths of the pandemic,” Saunders said. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, working families are getting some relief and the economy is on the mend. But we can’t stop now. To build back better, we must continue investing in workers, families and communities.”

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