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COVID & Unemployment

Will the $400 in extra unemployment benefits actually reach people?

Nova Safo Aug 10, 2020
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President Donald Trump signs executive actions extending coronavirus economic relief on Aug. 8. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

Will the $400 in extra unemployment benefits actually reach people?

Nova Safo Aug 10, 2020
Heard on:
President Donald Trump signs executive actions extending coronavirus economic relief on Aug. 8. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

President Donald Trump signed actions over the weekend aimed at restarting some pandemic relief, including a limited ban on evictions and $400 extra a week in unemployment benefits. But will that aid actually reach people?

The move comes after talks with congressional Democrats over wide-ranging pandemic relief legislation broke down.

Trump directed federal agencies to send $300 dollars in weekly aid, taken from the federal disaster relief fund, and called on states to provide an additional $100.

Matthew Lawrence of Emory University, a scholar of legislative appropriations, said that all four presidential actions are a mere shadow of what negotiators were considering.

“The roadblock is the limitations on presidential power, and the fact that our Constitution relies on Congress to make decisions about taxing and spending,” Lawrence said.

So while Trump can spend some money, he’s very limited in how. Calling on states to implement new unemployment programs, as Trump’s executive action has done, is unlikely to be practical, Lawrence said.

Of the other actions, he said that one has the potential to offer some immediate help, and that’s the further deferring of student loan payments.

Correction (Aug. 10, 2020): Previous versions of this web and audio story mischaracterized the types of actions signed by the president. They have been corrected.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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