The announcement of the resumption of negotiations in the United States to vote on a plan to support the economy brought a glimmer of hope on Thursday for many families affected by the crisis, who are preparing to spend a grim Thanksgiving holiday .
The teams of elected Democrats and Republicans from the Senate and the House of Representatives met Thursday afternoon to discuss two subjects, including that of a stimulus plan, according to a Democratic source in Congress.
“The federal government must provide (this support) as soon as possible and with flexibility to meet the needs of states,” reacted President-elect Joe Biden.
This aid includes support for businesses, schools, families, workers, the unemployed, and for the education of young children or health care.
“Everything is necessary during this pandemic. States and communities should not have to lay off teachers, police officers, firefighters, to cut down vital services”, noted Joe Biden.
Discussions to vote for a new plan to take over from the one urgently adopted in March, worth more than 2.2 trillion dollars, had started this summer. But the deep disagreements between the two parties were exacerbated by a particularly divisive election campaign.
Since the November 3 election, negotiations had stalled. Their recovery was eagerly awaited, both by millions of American households facing unemployment or loss of income, and by small businesses on the verge of bankruptcy.
This news sent Wall Street to the close.
On the other hand, some programs put in place in the spring by the Central Bank, the Fed, with funds from the Treasury, to inject new money into the economy, may not be extended beyond December 31.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday demanded that the remaining funds be returned, but the Fed disagreed with the move.
– Schools closed –
If the news is good on the vaccine front, slated for the next few months, millions of Americans are on the verge of falling into extreme poverty.
The aid granted in March, in the first stimulus plan, is indeed expiring, threatening 12 million unemployed people to find themselves suddenly without resources on Boxing Day. They will join the cohort of people who are already no longer entitled to any aid, warned The Century Foundation, a Democratic think tank.
Financial assistance to households and businesses is all the more crucial as the health situation is deteriorating with a new wave of contamination from the new coronavirus.
Thanksgiving, one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States, which usually results in large family reunions, worries health authorities. They advised Americans not to travel on the occasion of this holiday.
And many states or cities have imposed new restrictions, such as New York State, which has imposed a curfew on bars and restaurants, and closed its schools.
The third largest city in the country, Chicago, has called on its residents to only go out for essential travel. Even hitherto reluctant mayors and governors have ended up taking drastic measures.
– 6.4 million unemployed –
These restrictions have important consequences for employment. Thus, between November 8 and 14, 742,000 people were unemployed, or 30,000 more than the previous week, according to the latest figures from the Department of Labor.
This is “not an isolated accident”, but marks the beginning of a new rise in unemployment “which will persist until the wave of Covid slows down”, worries Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics.
An official at the American Central Bank (Fed) even warned Thursday that a new recession was to be feared in the fourth quarter.
The country had nearly 6.4 million unemployed in early November. A declining figure, but if a party has actually found a job, others are simply no longer entitled to unemployment benefits, paid for six months maximum in the United States.
By adding aid programs linked to the pandemic, making it possible to extend the payment of allowances by several weeks or to extend them to workers who are not usually entitled to them, such as the self-employed, there are 20.3 million people who received aid during the last week of October.
Millions of them could also end up homeless, with evictions only frozen until December 31. The United States has recorded an average of more than a thousand deaths every day over the past two weeks.