Senate Democrats Negotiate Child Care Proposal
Unemployment Program Funding
On Thursday, May 5, twenty Senate Democrats sent a letter to leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee calling for $3.2 billion to fund state unemployment programs in the FY23 funding bill after ‘decades of underinvestment.’ The pandemic has highlighted many flaws in unemployment systems across the country - recipients sometimes waited months to collect relief checks. The letter stated, “without robust administrative funding, state workforce agencies will struggle to provide UI benefits efficiently to jobless workers and to protect the integrity of the program.” On Thursday, May 5, the Department of Labor reported roughly 200,000 people filed for jobless benefits the prior week - similar to levels seen in the pre-pandemic labor market.
Click here to read the letter.
Child Care Legislation
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Patty Murray (WA) and Senator Tim Kaine (VA) are in the process of drafting language that would overhaul their child care proposal with the hopes that it will win over Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and be included in a future reconciliation package. The legislation could spend between $150 and $200 billion – spread over six years, $72 billion would go towards the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program for more robust child care subsidies; $18 billion to a new grant program that would help states expand access to pre-K; and $12 billion to the Head Start program to raise wages for teachers. Lawmakers are looking to spend an additional $50 to $100 billion on a pilot program within CCDBG that would cap child care expenses for families making up to 250 percent of their state’s median income so that they would spend no more than 7 percent of their income on care for children up to the age of 5.
On Tuesday, May 3, the Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) for March. The summary reveals that employers listed more than 11.5 million job openings in March - record levels of job openings and workers quitting. The economy also set a record for the number of openings relative to available workers, with a gap of 5.6 million. This is evidence of the labor market tightness across the country as the economy recovers from the pandemic. The report shows the labor market is still very much a job seeker’s market.
Click here to access the JOLTS.
On Friday, May 6, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the April unemployment report, which showed the economy added 428,000 jobs last month. There were notable gains in leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6% - just 0.1 percentage point above its pre-pandemic level. The labor market has added more than 6.5 million jobs in the past year and is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels this summer.
Click here to access the report.
Click here to read President Biden’s statement on the April jobs report.