COVID assistance from Washington has ended. The need for it is not, however.
When I wrote recently about household finances tightening, I asked readers to fill in the numbers with their own stories. Dozens of responses show the same polarization seen across the political spectrum. Many people wrote to describe how they were still under water and could use an elevator, while a vocal minority said Washington had done enough and it was time for people to stand on their own two feet.
David Green, 51, is a union electrician in the Bay Area who can’t get a reliable job because projects continue to be delayed by material shortages. An eight-month battery facility construction project broke down in October, and he has since signed up for three additional projects. But each was postponed because contractors couldn’t get the necessary parts, including basic items like wire, nuts, bolts and masks that are usually on the shelves at Home Depot.
“The supply chain is killing us,” Green said. “Biden is talking about semiconductors but not about meat and potatoes to rebuild America. For me, it’s wire and pipe, so we can power the walls.”
Since last October, Green has worked nearly one-third of what he would on a full-time schedule. The only other time work was so slow was during the housing bust and the Great Recession of 2008. With two kids in college, he said financial resources were “lowering the steam.”
Green doesn’t want another stimulus check or federal benefit. “Nothing is free, I get it,” he said. “I’m doing my part to fix what I can, within my realm. Hopefully the government will fix this, along with the supply chains, because my hands are tied.
The end of the extended child tax credit
Federal benefits associated with COVID such as stimulus payments, supplemental unemployment assistance and expanded child tax credit will end in 2021, with pressure now mounting on some family budgets. Poll by Morning Consult shows that the share of adults with less than a month’s worth of emergency savings rose from 22.3% in December to 29% in January, associated with the end of partial savings. -advance child tax credit.
President Biden and many Democrats in Congress want to continue that benefit into 2022, but there is not enough support even within their own party to get the 51 votes needed for passage in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the possibility of more targeted stimulus measures that are unlikely to include direct assistance to workers, but could help industries still undergoing COVID attacks, such as restaurants. and other business services.
Nick Clidas of Greece, NY, near Rochester, runs that kind of business. As a massage therapist with private practice, she closed completely during COVID, then reopened in June. The business was only at 60% of the levels before COVID, however, he was forced to sublet office space, with no money left to promote his services. Clidas used unemployment insurance to help cover business -related fees, but without that, he is now thinking of giving up the overhead of an office and switching to consulting. He is 73, but cannot afford to retire.
“The finances have worsened last year,” he said. “We’re not hard, but we’re getting and not much else.”
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‘Many people are not in my position’
The dividing line between those who thrive among COVID and those who derail it often happens: Working in the wrong field, enduring an illness or simply having young children has left many Americans in dire straits. . Eva Wegleitner, 47 of Portland, Oregon was laid off from her job in January of 2020, shortly after her husband had liver failure. When COVD hit, she found it impossible to find a new job and care for her husband at the same time. His disability payments helped pay the bills, but they stopped when he died in July 2020. Wegleitner has since survived on savings, stimulus checks and jobless assistance, but that money was everything dried up, and he took a roommate to help with the cost.
He plans to start a 40-hour a week job soon, but still, he says, “My financial situation has been completely ruined by COVID.”
Child care concerns are another phenomenon that has left some parents with painful choices to make. Astrid Morgan of Harrisonburg, Virginia had a busy job as a personal trainer and fitness instructor before COVID. But her school-age son struggled during the pandemic, and she felt compelled to stay home with him until things improved. Stimulus tests and some jobless help helped her to cope, but she is now deficient. Another problem is a tax return tied with red tape.
“It’s a very sad outlook,” he said. “Can I go out and work? Yes. Can I leave my child at home with a good conscience? Absolutely not. How does any mother’s outlook on life feel when she is staring at an empty bank account, those piles of bills, and children he does not want to release? ”
The events benefited others. An auto-dealer employee wrote to say he was making more money during the pandemic, as demand for cars increased and prices rose.
“I know a lot of people are not in my position,” he said. “But there’s also the aspect of doing what needs to be done and it needs to be sucked into. The only person responsible for your welfare is you. Not the government. “
We get a lot of input like that from people who feel too much government help allowing some workers to stay at home instead of looking for work. The reality is more complicated, but skepticism about the benefits of pandemic assistance has also spread in Congress. Republicans are widely opposed to more aid and even some Democrats think the cost of additional benefits, such as another year of extended child tax credit, is too high, especially if the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% and there were millions of jobs open.
The specter of COVID is long, however. One woman wrote to tell us that she quit her job in 2020 because she was worried about having COVID — and still is. Federal aid helped her fight the pandemic but when it disappeared, her bank account ran out and she lived with her daughter.
“I don’t know why the financial aid was stopped, whereas the pandemic is not over yet,” he said. “Aren’t we in a pandemic yet?” Depends on who you ask, that is.
Rick Newman is a columnist and author of four books, including “Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success.Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.
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