Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the U.S. economy has been a bit of a roller coaster. Stock prices plummeted, then soared to all-time highs, while unemployment hit historic levels. Although stimulus bills were passed early in the pandemic, those initial relief measures aren’t making an impact eight months into the crisis.
Studies show that more Americans have fallen into poverty, and jobs have been slow to come back. Virtually every data point indicates that the everyday American is seriously struggling. So how bad are these issues, and why hasn’t any further government relief come?
How Americans are Faring Economically
In October, the New York Times reported on just how dire the current economic situation has become. Less than a year after Congress passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, poverty is rising and unemployed Americans have almost nowhere to turn. Between six and eight million Americans have fallen into poverty since the pandemic began, and the problems are extensive and complicated to fix.
Unemployed Americans have become particularly susceptible to falling into poverty. Jobs in many sectors have been slow to come back, and CARES Act unemployment boosts expired over the summer. While President Trump passed an executive order to expand unemployment benefits, those payments are ending too. In some states, people are left with only a few hundred dollars per month to pay bills and support their families.
Anyone out of work should immediately look to file for unemployment, but unfortunately, those benefits might not be enough.
And although the economy has recovered somewhat, it hasn’t been straightforward. Certain industries, like tech, haven’t skipped a beat. Others, like hospitality, have still yet to even really begin going back to normal in some places. Even as job numbers improve and stock trend upward, many average people are suffering.
What’s Next for Stimulus Negotiations?
Without more government aid, millions more could fall into poverty, and those already struggling will face more hardships. The first stimulus check was critical toward helping families pay bills, but those bills have continued to pile up since that stimulus payment was made. Relief is still badly needed, but lawmakers aren’t showing much urgency in passing the next bill.
The President and Democrats in the House of Representatives seemed to be on the same page; however, the Senate has stalled any stimulus talk indefinitely. After voting to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate until November 9th. We will not be getting another stimulus bill until after the election, if at all.
All in all, stimulus negotiations are a bit of a mess. President Trump has switched sides on stimulus a few times this month, and although both parties have called for a deal, nothing can get done. There’s plenty of finger-pointing and confusion, but very few actual answers. This means that struggling Americans might be without government aid for the foreseeable future.
The Bottom Line
It could be a while until Americans get any further relief from the government. Even if Congress pushed through a stimulus bill as quickly as possible post-election, it could still take until the end of the year for stimulus checks or other payments to roll out.
If you need relief in the meantime, there are still ways to find some aid. As we said earlier, anyone out of work should immediately file for unemployment. Moreover, there are ways to get affordable health insurance even if you’re out of work, and that’s critical in times like these.