COVID-19, News

Robust relief or a narrower aid package? Americans will find out this week.

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All eyes are on Washington this week to see how much help may come from the federal government as Senate Republicans and the White House work to finalize what’s expected to be the final coronavirus relief package before the November election.

Advocates say extra jobless benefits, an eviction moratorium and additional funding for schools are essential as COVID-19 cases have topped 4.2 million and show no signs of slowing.

Associated Press reports:

The administration’s chief negotiators — White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — spent the weekend on Capitol Hill to put what Meadows described as “final touches” on the relief bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring forward Monday afternoon.

But looming deadlines may force them to consider other options. By Friday, millions of out-of-work Americans will lose an $600 federal unemployment benefit that is expiring and federal eviction protections for many renters are also coming to an end. President Donald Trump’s standing is at one of the lowest points of his term, according to a new AP-NORC poll.

Both Mnuchin and Meadows said earlier Sunday that narrower legislation might need to be passed first to ensure that enhanced unemployment benefits don’t run out for millions of Americans. They cited unemployment benefits, money to help schools reopen, tax credits to keep people from losing their jobs, and lawsuit protections for schools and businesses as priorities.

While Meadows has said the White House is “looking for clarity” on a few issues, here are some numbers to consider arising from the prolonged pandemic.

26 million – the number of adults in this country who reported their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Household Pulse Survey for the week ending July 7)

1 in 5 – the number of adult renters (13.1 million adults) who were behind on rent for the week ending July 7 (Ibid)

7 million – the number of children living in a household that is behind on rent (Ibid)

1.4 million  – the number of Americans who applied for unemployment insurance last week (Source: U.S. Department of Labor)

3.6 percent – North Carolina’s unemployment rate in January  (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

7.6 percent – North Carolina’s unemployment rate in June

1,996,509 – the number of claims filed for unemployment benefits in North Carolina between March 15 and July 22 (Source:NCDES)

69 – the percentage of NC claimants approved for benefits between March 15 and July 22

22 – the percentage of NC claimants (261,308) who did not meet eligibility criteria for benefits

2 – the number of days since an extra $600 enhanced unemployment benefit expired. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) funding came to an end July 25th.

200 – Republicans are considering extending the enhanced unemployment benefit at $200 a week, one third of what was put in place in the previous relief package  (Source:Washington Post)

$350 – the maximum weekly unemployment benefit for jobless North Carolinians without the additional federal support

1.45 million – the number of utility accounts in North Carolina that have gone unpaid since Governor Cooper enacted a moratorium on utility shutoffs

1.37 million – the number of those unpaid utility accounts that are residential customers

257.85 million – the outstanding balance on those bills that will need to be repaid. The moratorium prevented shutoffs; it did not grant forgiveness.

5 – the number of days remaining before the Governor Cooper’s executive order placing a moratorium on utility shutoffs is set to expire


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