The numbers are in and Missouri added back more than 52,000 jobs last month. That might seem small, since we’re so used to talking about national jobs numbers, but in Missouri that’s huge news. It drove our unemployment rate down to 6.9 percent, one of the lowest rates in the country.
These aren’t “new” jobs though, by and large. These are folks getting back to work after being laid off early in the COVID-19 pandemic. When this first hit months ago, the idea was that these shutdowns and new guidance would help bend the curve and slow the rate of new infections long enough to buy our healthcare providers time to stock up and avoid overloading our hospitals. We did that, but in the process millions of Americans lost their jobs.
Parents struggled to provide for their families as the economy took a nosedive, going from the best we’ve seen in my lifetime, to the worst America has seen since the Great Depression. Congress took quick action to help folks who lost their jobs, get critical resources to our healthcare professionals, and rapidly expand COVID-19 testing. These efforts were important, but only a temporary stopgap in a time of extreme crisis.
The reality is that these shutdowns, slowdowns, and new government mandates were never going to eradicate the COVID-19 virus. It just isn’t possible to defeat a virus with legislation and mandates. It takes science and medicine, cures, treatments, and vaccines to do that.
With that reality in mind, our goal in reopening our country should not be to stay closed until this virus goes away. That just isn’t practical or even possible. Such a shutdown would destroy our economy, cost working families dearly, and ultimately lead to unfathomable pain, suffering, and even death as a result. We might never fully understand the toll such a drastic action would inflict upon our country.
What we can do is reopen safely and responsibly to make sure our healthcare system remains ready to fight this virus while getting millions of Americans back to work. Thanks to the incredible leadership of President Trump and Governor Mike Parson, we’re doing just that. Together, they’ve led the way in reopening our country and our state responsibly and safely, allowing millions of Americans to get back to work and provide for their families.
Sam Graves is the Mo. Sixth District U.S. Representative.