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COVID-19

The latest pandemic relief measure increases SNAP benefits

Samantha Fields Jan 5, 2021
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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The increase in SNAP benefits, plus an additional $300 a month in federal unemployment benefits, should help reduce food insecurity. Scott Heins/Getty Images
COVID-19

The latest pandemic relief measure increases SNAP benefits

Samantha Fields Jan 5, 2021
The increase in SNAP benefits, plus an additional $300 a month in federal unemployment benefits, should help reduce food insecurity. Scott Heins/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

As part of the latest COVID-19 relief package, Congress voted to increase benefits for everyone on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Starting this month, everyone on the program will get a 15% increase in their monthly benefits through June.

This is the second time since the pandemic began that Congress has voted to increase SNAP benefits. But the first time, the people who were most in need didn’t get an increase because they were already getting the maximum benefit. Those households will get more SNAP benefits now.

Adam Morgan at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank estimated it’ll be an extra $30 a month per person.

“It can help a parent eat while they’re also trying to make sure their kids eat,” Morgan said.

The increase in SNAP benefits, plus an additional $300 a month in federal unemployment benefits, should help reduce food insecurity, said Stacy Dean at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Evidence from the Great Recession was that increasing SNAP absolutely reduced food insecurity for the households who got the benefit,” Dean said.

The hunger relief organization Feeding America estimated that around 50 million people experienced food insecurity because of the pandemic in 2020.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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