CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship August 13, 2020


August 13, 2020

COVID-19 Hardship

August 13, 2020 

Zeroes Edition.  This week’s stats show some high numbers – millions more COVID-19 cases, billions of dollars in unemployment benefits now expired for 3 weeks, and 19 million children in households threatened with eviction and hunger – but a lot of zeroes. These convey the likely impact of President Trump’s executive actions, at least in the next couple of months.  The Executive Order related to housing does exactly nothing – it asks government departments to look into what might be done to provide rental or mortgage assistance, and does NOT extend the eviction moratorium that expired at the end of July. Trump wants employers not to withhold the worker share of the Social Security payroll tax from September through December.  But employers don’t have to do that, and business experts think many won’t, because all those taxes will come due in January.  And the new “Lost Wages Assistance” that would provide $300/week in federal money to jobless workers who have now gone three weeks without the expired $600/week Pandemic Unemployment Compensation?  It will be so complicated for states to set up that it could easily take a couple of months before any money was distributed, so zero to workers in August and probably September.  It won’t last long – the money will run out in 5-6 weeks.   

There are millions of people unemployed, and the number out of work for 15 weeks or longer doubled from June to July (to 8 million).  The total number of unemployment claims out today is over 1.3 million for the week ending August 8 (including regular state UI plus the federal program covering gig and self-employed workers).  These workers need more than zeroes. People facing evictions and hunger need more than zeroes.  State and local governments need more than zeroes. They need Senate Majority Leader McConnell, AWOL from negotiations so far, to step up and work out new legislation with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer.  McConnell and Trump seem to think the voters will be content with words, but no meaningful action.  But too much is at stake – our health, jobs, homes, and economic future.  Let your Senators know you know the difference between 0 and real help.

+3.8 million 

Since the House passed its $3.4T HEROES Act on May 15, the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has risen by 3.8 million – from 1.4 million to nearly 5.2 million on August 13.


19 million 

19 million children, or one in four, live in a household that didn’t pay rent on time in the previous month and/or did not have enough to eat in the past week.  42% of Black children and 36% of Latinx children lived in households facing such severe hardship (data from late June and July).  The moratorium on evictions in federally subsidized/backed units expired on 7/25.


-$45.6 billion 

How much money jobless people have lost in the 3 weeks since the $600/week Pandemic Unemployment Compensation was allowed to expire. Without that extra benefit, unemployment compensation now averages only 40 percent of a worker’s pre-pandemic earnings. Tweet this. 



How much jobless workers will receive in August and September from Trump’s shift of disaster relief money to pay $300/week in a new Lost Wages Assistance program – because it will take months for states to set it up. Tweet this. 


5-6 weeks 

Once states manage to set up a way to distribute the $300/week payment, there is only enough money to pay benefits for 5-6 weeks.



How many people getting less than $100/week in state unemployment benefits would get the $300/week extra benefit – they’re the lowest-income workers, making up 10-15% of all UI claimants, but they’re not eligible.



The Trump payroll tax deferral asks employers not to withhold workers’ 6.2% payroll tax September through December, but many employers might not do it, because they’d be on the hook for paying the tax in January.



How many renters will get help to avoid evictions from the Trump Executive Order purporting to provide assistance to renters and homeowners.  The EO only asks government departments to think about ways to help; it does not extend the expired moratorium on evictions or provide actual rental assistance.


From 80% to 37% 

In January-March, 80% of renters in modest (“Class C”) apartments paid their rent on time; in July, that was down to 37%, as reported by BloombergThat’s 7.5m units, 35% of the nation’s rental stock.


-25% or more 

23 states saw their revenues drop 25% or more in March-May of this year as compared with the same period in 2019.  In 46 states, revenues declined; the U.S. average for state revenue drop was 29%. The state and local cutbacks will be a drag on the economy – if no more federal aid, will cause a loss of 5.3 million jobs.