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How the proposed stimulus deal would impact Bay Area families

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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KRON) – If the president does sign the relief bill, one big question many want to be answered, will it do enough for the American people and businesses?

Recent government figures show that about 40 percent of Americans are food insecure, struggling to pick up basics at the local grocery store.

For that reason and many others, economists say the relief bill from Congress is really actually good for many. 

“For many people, this relief bill really will be a help,” Professor James Wilcox, with UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School, said.  

He dove into the details on how the current relief package offers a lot of economic benefits for those directly affected by the pandemic.   

“For one thing, it extends the maximum number of weeks that someone can withdraw unemployment, it adds back in $300 a week extra from the federal government on top of the state unemployment checks and it pays the same $300 for people who don’t get regular paychecks but might be gig workers or contractors or sole proprietors, and so on. So those can be a huge help as well as a number of other provisions in the act,” Wilcox said.  

With shelter in place orders closing down restaurants, retail operating at lower capacity – offering fewer workers hours, and small businesses taking a huge hit, studies show the pandemic hit the service industry harder than others.  

Unemployment rates hover around 6.9 percent in the Bay Area, it was around 3.5 percent before the pandemic struck. 

“Because it turns out that a lot of the lower-paid workers are in service-related industries, in real person-to-person jobs, they got hurt a lot worse than many of the white-collar and other jobs that we’re able to stay, still be done from home,” Wilcox said.  

Whereas President Trump ridiculed the bill – claiming it didn’t go far enough, shoving it back to Congress, Wilcox says stalling any more has large repercussions.   

“The $600 is a provision that is separate from the unemployment extensions and the $300 bonus unemployment that comes from the federal government. The $600 would be, in fact, especially valuable and useful and needed by those who have lost their jobs, whose businesses have been hurt very badly and have otherwise suffered financially and economically through the pandemic but in practice, what’s happened is we now have a law, almost, that says that we’re going to send out the $600 and the president has now upped the anty to $2,000 to basically everyone, and as we mentioned a little earlier, tens of millions of us, in fact, most of us have not lost our jobs, and have not lost businesses. Those folks still are going to get these checks and I think that this is just a very expensive mistake,” Wilcox said.  

Professor Wilcox adding about that 2,000, proposed by President Trump, that money doesn’t grow on trees, and that the government can’t just dole out money borrowing against a deficit saying, it would have to be paid back somehow, perhaps even raises taxes at some point and certainly no one wants. 

He adds that he believes it is a mistake because as he reminded me, money doesn’t grow on trees, and the government must regroup all this that it is spending somehow, possibly higher taxes and certainly no one wants that. So all of this much more complex.   

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