The extraordinary safety net that has buoyed financially stressed Americans during the coronavirus pandemic is starting to fray.
In the coming weeks, the jobless will likely no longer receive an extra $600 in their weekly unemployment checks. Many tenants who don’t pay their rent can be evicted. And many small businesses won’t have a forgivable federal loan to cushion the blow of meager sales.
Government and private-sector programs intended to keep millions of people afloat since mid-March during the most abrupt and severe recession in U.S. history are scheduled to expire soon even as near-record unemployment and deep financial hardship persist. Goldman Sachs says in a recent research note that it expects some of the programs to be extended in some form, though they likely won’t be as generous.
And banks and utilities have said they’ll work with customers who have trouble paying bills.
But the spirit of unqualified aid that prevailed during the worst of the crisis, much of it included in Congress’s $1.8 trillion CARES Act, is fading.
The phaseouts come as states increasingly allow businesses shuttered by the outbreak to gradually reopen. The economy unexpectedly added 2.5 million net jobs in May, including layoffs and new hires. Yet an unprecedented 22 million jobs were shed the previous two months and the unemployment rate was still 13.3% in May, near the highest since the Great Depression.