The U.S. economic outlook is dire despite meager signs of improvement from the depths of this year’s springtime shutdowns, and millions of Americans are now facing the crunch of disappearing federal aid that has kept so many families afloat.
A new report from the Federal Reserve highlights just how broad-based and rapid the effects of this economic downturn have been.
“Nearly one-fourth of adults said their family received assistance from unemployment insurance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or free groceries or meals from charitable organizations since the start of the pandemic,” the report finds.
“Although financial assistance programs have buffered families from economic hardships, many still remained out of work,” the Fed said.
“Additionally, some of those who received assistance with housing bills expressed concerns about resuming their regular monthly payments when this payment relief ends.”
That has already happened.
With Congress now looking increasingly unlikely to deliver a second major fiscal stimulus before the November elections, the prospect of losing key sources of income is all too real.
Ben Zipperer of the Economic Policy Institute (where I used to work) estimates that, without the first round of stimulus payments and beefed up jobless insurance, over 13 million people would have fallen below the poverty line.
“Unfortunately, the $600 supplementary unemployment insurance payment expired in July,” he writes in a blog.
“Senate Republicans blocking its renewal have increased poverty and hardship for millions of families in the middle of a pandemic that has caused widespread job loss and health devastation.”