SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – With the clock ticking down on the last stimulus package from Congress and the Trump administration, Democrats and Republicans will have to come up with a fourth bailout package to help shore up the U.S. economy during the pandemic.
California experienced strong job growth in June, adding more than a half million jobs to the state’s economy as the state began to reopen businesses shut down to stem the spread of COVID-19. Still, business leaders worry the gains could be jeopardized by rising numbers of coronavirus cases.
“The economy is in turmoil. That’s the best way to characterize it,” says Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “And that’s because of the virus of course, but specifically because we’re seeing new spikes.”
Rising coronavirus cases have forced state and local leaders to close segments of the economy that only recently reopened like gyms, barbershops and hair and nail salons. That’s not to mention segments of the economy that have remained shuttered since the first stay-at-home orders were issued in mid-March.
Even after a vaccine, people are going to be hesitant to go out in large crowds,” says Glenn Telega who works as a stagehand in the Convention and Concert industry.
Telega fears it could be months and possibly years before conventions and large-scale events resume. He’s also deeply concerned about expanded federal unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the month if Congress doesn’t intervene.
“Without any further stimulus assistance come August 1, I will be making 12 percent of my gross wages in benefits. And it’s going to be difficult to survive on 12 percent,” says Telega.
The expanded federal benefits were designed to cushion the blow to families forced to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus.
“I think all the information that’s coming out of Washington is that there will be some kind of extension. It may not be $600; it may be $400,” says Michael Bernick, former Labor Commissioner in California.
Democrats in the House of Representatives have passed a $3 trillion stimulus package dubbed the HEROES Act, which includes more than $800 billion for state and local governments, extended unemployment benefits, rent and mortgage subsidies and up to $1,200 per family member. Senate Republicans are poised to unveil their $1 trillion counteroffer next week.