COVID-19

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

Nova Safo Aug 10, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
President Donald Trump signs executive actions extending coronavirus economic relief on Aug. 8. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

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

Nova Safo Aug 10, 2020
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

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

It’s been weeks since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum that was supposed to get the federal government back into the business of topping up unemployment benefits, to $400 a week. Few states, however, are currently paying even part of the benefit that the president promised. And, it looks like, in most states, the maximum additional benefit unemployment recipients will be able to get is $300.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.