Saturday, February 27, 2021

Unemployment is still high, and stimulus is most needed now and for that

I'm glad to see the stimulus package pass the House, and hope the Senate doesn't get too bogged down in small ball and gets the damn thing to Biden's desk ASAP. As it is, the DC dawdling has caused us to get too close to a deadline where COVID-related unemployment programs are again at risk of expiring and having to be re-set.

The gig-related PUA program and the long-term PEUC program are both set to expire in 2 weeks, and this week's report on unemployment claims shows that millions are set to get cut off. Extended benefits saw a sizable increase last week, and new PUA claims have also been going up in recent weeks as more states get the program back into their systems.
Note how the one-week drop in these charts coincides with the dawdling that President Trump did to sign the COVID relief measure that passed in December, which forced PUA and PEUC to expire for a week before being restored retroactively.

And while we saw a decline in new unemployment claims last week, it also seems to be an illusion. The reason I say that is that the holiday of President's Day fell on that week (shortening the number of days many state offices were open), and because states like Texas had a drop of 7,000 claims in a week when large amounts of the state were shut down and without power.

Much like with PUA, I will bet that we will see a backlog of claims start showing up in higher numbers for future reports. Which means that we are in a much worse situation than a lot of economic reports would have you think.

It's also why I think that a $15 minimum wage shouldn't be a requirement of the COVID relief bill. We can get back to a $15 minimum wage in 2 months, and dare Republicans to vote against it as a standalone measure, instead of as part of some larger package where GOPs can deflect away from the minimum wage provisions. People need stimulus checks and unemployment assistance NOW. And we need to kick the fight against COVID into overdrive to crush it once and for all, so get this bill done and passed in the next 10 days with those items at its core.

Then we can use the Spring and Summer to get even more policy wins, and keep up the appearance of getting things done, which is the way they stay in power after 2022, get even more good things done for this country, and stop the GOPs from wrecking the recovery from the COVID World.

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