This article was last updated on February 3
[Update] Trump Lost, Biden Won. This was a direct result of the perception of Trump’s mishandling of the COVID crisis and ensuing economic outfall. Not a surprise and glad to see Biden proposing further unemployment extensions in 2021.
For the millions of unemployed workers who saw a significant reduction in their household income due to the Coronavirus driven economic slowdown, the extra $600 per week unemployment check and extension of existing state unemployment benefits enacted under the CARES stimulus act were a pretty significant part of replacing their lost income. In some states it’s the difference between staying above the poverty line and being able to feed one’s family.
It’s been well documented that many millions of people, even though being eligible for the $600 per week payment since it was available in early April 2020, have had significant issues being able to submit claims and get information on their claim/payment status. Further even when they receive payments they are being paid inconsistently (despite claimants certifying on schedule) and retroactive/back-payments are not being processed as expected. It’s also been very difficult to get through to state unemployment officials to get help given their limited capacity and technical challenges to manage the new/enhanced unemployment provisions.
I have written several articles covering these topics and you can just see the frustration across the thousands of comments received. Despite these issues, the extra unemployment benefits for the millions of unemployed workers who are getting these payments is a critical source of income for staying above water financially. Further with the key $600 weekly payment expiring at the end of July 2020, extending this payment has become a political hot topic that will rage on for the next several weeks and will have a significant bearing on the upcoming presidential election in November.
The debate on supplementary unemployment benefits is generally divided along party lines with Democrats supporting an extension and Republicans arguing that the additional $600 of unemployment benefits discourages workers from going back to work because in many states the extra payment on top of the regular state UI is more than people could earn from working!
So despite the resurgence of the Coronavirus in several states, the extension or expiry of the $600 PUC payment and even another stimulus check in 2020 is, in my opinion, going to be more important to President Trump’s re-election chances than most other economic and social factors that rage on. As many past elections have shown, independent or undecided voters place a high value on financial security (or the perception that the President will improve their financial well being) compared to many other issues. And it will be no different this time around come November.