Middle-class Americans employed in sectors of the economy already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic who are unemployed or in danger of becoming unemployed now should expect another hit unless the government moves quickly to implement the benefits in the $2 trillion stimulus package, a leading economics expert said during a virtual roundtable held Friday by the Center for A New American Security.
“There is a lot of talk and a lot of proposals but the money hasn’t reached those in need yet,” said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance
On Friday, the House passed a $2 trillion stimulus package already approved by the Senate that is meant to provide a major boost to unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in credit for struggling companies, and direct cash payments to Americans. President Donald Trump has said he will sign it.
On Thursday, new data released by Department of Labor showed that more than 3 million Americans had filed for unemployment the week earlier after many states imposed lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus and others pushed for social distancing, which is what Trump has set as the federal response.
“The government has a greater role in driving growth,” said Rachel Ziemba, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “It’s necessary because we are in an unprecedented crisis and government cooperation within and with other countries is critical.”
Ziemba said experts do not know how long the U.S. and other countries will experience this economic crisis but it depends on the pandemic and policy response.
“Countries that are able to keep workers assigned to their jobs and provide a financial lifeline may be more able to emerge out of it,” Ribakova said.
Ziemba added that in India, the speed at which the lockdown was put in place- “with very little notice and little attention to how people would get basic food and services” is a cause for concern.
Unlike the U.S. and China, smaller countries are much more reliant on emergency programs by the International Monetary Fund to assist them, said Ribakova. “They need to speed it up, that’s the big issue,” she said.