The U.S. unemployment rate reached 14.7 percent for April, the highest it has ever been since the Great Depression, according to a report released by the Department of Labor on Friday. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, as states implemented stay at home policies to help slow the spread of the virus. Congress has passed legislation to help Americans and businesses, but so far the legislation has only included a single check for $1,200, an amount that will barely help those putting their lives on the line during the pandemic and those unemployed or working reduced hours.
House Democrats have proposed another round of stimulus checks, but nothing is set in stone yet. On Monday, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris and Ed Markey and Sen. Bernie Sanders are set to introduce the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, which would pay eligible taxpayers $2,000 a month. While proposals are debated though, there are two groups who could really use the extra help, notes Forbes.
The first group includes people who are working during the pandemic because their businesses have been considered essential. Some workers have been receiving hazard pay for putting their lives on the line, but some are not. One of the Democratic proposals is the Heroes Fund, officially called the Pandemic Premium Pay Fund. The proposal originates from Senate Democrats and calls for a $25,000 pandemic pay increase for essential frontline workers. This would be equivalent to an extra $13 per hour and would continue through Dec. 31. The proposal also includes a "$15,000 recruitment incentive for health and home care workers and first responders to attract and secure the workforce needed to fight the public health crisis."
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney proposed a "Patriot Pay" plan. This would call for essential workers making under $50,000 a year to receive a $12-per-hour bonus for May, June and July. Two-thirds of this would be paid for by a refundable payroll tax credit from the federal government, while the rest is up to employers to cover, reports CBS News.
The second group that could use another stimulus check includes employees who have had their hours cut or are unemployed, Forbes notes. Another stimulus would help them stay financially stable while waiting for unemployment benefits from states to finally come in. The U.S.lost 20.5 million jobs in April, according to the preliminary data the Department of Labor released Friday, notes Vox. The data is only based on surveys through April 12 though, so the situation is almost certainly direr. In the last seven weeks, 33 million people have filed for unemployment.