The pandemic is still taking a heavy toll on Americans, and the heavy burden of making things better now rests on the shoulders of President-elect Joe Biden.
The Real State of the Nation that Biden Has to Face
While Trump continued to make false claims that the U.S. is doing great and that the pandemic is already under control, millions of people lost their jobs. The pandemic still forced businesses and companies to temporarily operate at less than full capacity, while not a few had no choice but to permanently shut down. According to economists, the declining financial condition that American families are currently experiencing is a result not only of unemployment, but also due to the lack of sufficient economic support from the federal government under the Trump administration.
Dean Peter Tufano of Oxford’s Saïd Business School stated that things are significantly getting worse, when compared to how it was during the early economic decline of the country.
How the CARES Act Temporarily Helped Stave Off Poverty
While in March, Congress was able to pass a law known as the CARES Act which provided a $2.2 trillion relief package, it wasn’t enough since the COVID-19 still made it impossible for businesses to safely resume operations. According to researchers from Columbia University, the weekly $600 benefits for the unemployed and the stimulus checks of $1,200, helped 18 million citizens to stay out of poverty in the following months.
However, as the CARES Act financial aid expired in July, while the pandemic still wreaked havoc, families began experiencing financial difficulties. As of September, studies showed that America’s poor had increased by almost 5 million. Financial experts noticed that women, minorities, low earners, and people without college degrees, were the ones who were greatly affected.
The Need for a Long-Term Solution
In a study from a collaboration of three universities, Harvard, Oxford, and George Washington University, their findings reported that one out of three families are now having difficulties in earning enough money for basic expenses. Additionally, a 2018 Federal Reserve report had already revealed that about 40% of the citizens in the country cannot make up for an unanticipated bill costing $400 without having to sell an asset or fall in debt.
Today, things have taken a turn for the worse, as millions of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. Mainly because there was not enough money set aside as savings. Yet it’s partly due to the fact that wage growth had stagnated, particularly for low income earners. Many Americans barely making ends meet as continuing inflation drove the cost of living to go higher.
According to a previous Pew Research, minimum-wage earners have lost about 10% of their buying power over the past ten years due to inflation that was not met with stagnant wages. As the Biden administration vowed to address the financial problems of the low income earners, many are expecting that the $7.25 an hour that Congress and President Obama worked on in 2009 will be raised in due time.