Will the federal government extend the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?
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Congress and President Donald Trump are deciding whether to extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits workers are getting because of the pandemic.
Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has the latest on this. She spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
David Brancaccio: Yesterday, the U.S. labor secretary said he believes the program should not be extended?
Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia testified yesterday before the Senate Finance Committee. He pointed to last week’s unexpectedly good jobs report, which showed unemployment fell in May, to about 13%. The extra $600 a week payment is set to expire at the end of July. It’s on top of regular unemployment benefits, which would continue. Scalia says by July 31, much of the economy will be back open, and employers will be hiring.
Brancaccio: But many want the $600 a week extended, including Democrats?
Marshall-Genzer: Democrats say unemployment is still historically high. And they don’t want people to feel like they have to go back to jobs they feel are unsafe because of COVID-19. Democrats want to extend the extra $600 in unemployment benefits through January. Republicans say that with the extra money, some people are making more on unemployment than they would by working.
Brancaccio: Is there room for compromise here?
Marshall-Genzer: Possibly. Some Democrats say the extra $600 payments should be tied to the unemployment rate, so they’d only continue as long as unemployment remained high. And, Secretary Scalia mentioned the possibility of bonuses for people who return to work.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?
Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.
How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?
Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.
How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?
As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.
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