COVID-19

It’s the last month of $600-a-week unemployment benefits. What happens next?

Mitchell Hartman Jul 7, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Overall, jobless benefits are pumping about $100 billion per month into the U.S. economy. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

It’s the last month of $600-a-week unemployment benefits. What happens next?

Mitchell Hartman Jul 7, 2020
Overall, jobless benefits are pumping about $100 billion per month into the U.S. economy. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

At the end of this month, millions of unemployed Americans will get their last $600-a-week federal pandemic unemployment check, unless Congress acts to extend the program.

Overall, jobless benefits are pumping about $100 billion per month into the U.S. economy. What’s that going to mean for people struggling with unemployment with bills due?

Jody Solell is 64 and works for a solar energy installer in Maryland. He was furloughed in March, and recently got called back for a very partial reopening — just 2 1/2 hours one week and 2 hours another.

Solell is still getting $880 a week on unemployment, which includes the $600 in federal pandemic benefits.

What will his family do if that runs out at the end of July?

“Uh, I haven’t even thought about that,” he said. “That’s why they make credit cards.”

Financial advisory firm The Ascent has surveyed unemployed workers and research analyst Dann Albright said, “almost two-thirds could go less than three months without the extra $600 dollars. They would borrow more money, and take more drastic cuts in their expenses.”

A recent survey by the Urban Institute finds more than 4 in 10 American households have suffered job- or income-loss during the pandemic.

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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