Portman Says May Jobs Report Shows Need for Return to Work Bonus Proposal

June 5, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) released the following statement regarding the May jobs report showing that 2.5 million jobs were added last month and why that shows that his return to work bonus proposal is necessary: 

“Today’s jobs report is encouraging news for our economy and our workers. It showed that some of the temporary job losses due to the COVID-19 health care and economic crisis are starting to come back, and hopefully that the worst of the economic crisis is behind us. Specifically, despite most economic forecasts projecting that we would lose 7.5 million in May, we actually added 2.5 million jobs, with almost all of those gains coming from individuals returning to their old jobs. While this report is certainly a cause for optimism in terms of our economic recovery, we're not close to being out of the woods yet. Even with the job gains from this month, the 13.3 percent unemployment rate is the second highest level we've seen in this country since the Great Depression. Further, the unemployment rate for African-Americans increased this month to 16.8 percent, meaning that African-Americans continue to face disproportionately larger effects from this crisis. It is clear, though, that the combination of federal relief programs like the PPP and many states beginning the process of safely reopening have allowed many Americans to get back into the workforce to help kickstart our economic recovery.

“Moving forward, it is critical that we have a workforce that’s ready to step into their old jobs or newly available jobs now that the economy is safely reopening. Right now, folks receiving unemployment benefits are getting $600 per week on top of their respective states’ unemployment benefit thanks to the CARES Act. Given that more than 15 million unemployed Americans are categorized as ‘temporary layoffs,’ we need to be sure that there’s no financial disincentive for these individuals to get back into the workforce when those jobs become available to them again. That’s why my return to work bonus legislation, which I plan to introduce next week, is more important than ever. This legislation will provide $450 a week for individuals returning to work, meaning they’d receive their wages plus this $450 bonus. This would encourage folks to continue safely returning to their old jobs or newly available jobs while bolstering the economy. I will work with my colleagues to include this proposal in the next legislative COVID-19 response package.” 

NOTE: National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow praised Senator Portman’s work on this issue and said the White House is considering the proposal as discussions commence about the next COVID-19 legislative package.