COVID-19 Aid Changed Many Americans' Lives. Americans Need Enhanced Benefits Now More Than Ever.
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Vox Reports: “For the first time in my life, I had money in my savings”: Workers on the relief of the $600 weekly benefit
With the COVID-19 $600-per-week unemployment benefits, many Americans were bringing in more income than they did when they were working full time. While many lawmakers argued that this was a good reason to slash benefits, it highlights how broken our society is. According to University of Chicago economists, almost 68% of newly unemployed workers were on track to bring in more income under these benefits.
The average American worker also puts in 1,779 hours a year — not the most hours among the countries in the 37-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development index, but well above peers like Japan (1,644) and Germany (1,386). The OECD Work-Life Balance rankings found that US workers have less leisure time and face higher rates of gender inequity in the workforce than many of the countries on the list. And in normal times, we spend the second-least on unemployment aid after the Slovak Republic.
Our country lacks a robust safety net for workers and it takes a major toll on our workforce. But federal benefits expired last month. Donald Trump has signed an executive order for $300-per-week benefits but it's still unclear how many states will apply.
Many workers stated that the additional funds made their lives much easier:
Shannon Murphy, 25, retail worker in New York City I work in Times Square, so naturally my day looks a lot different than the normal retail worker. We’d see 4,000 customers a day, and all of us work nine-hour shifts. We would normally get scheduled for around 30 hours a week, but I would pick up shifts to get to 40. I worked myself to the bone. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally burned out. You need to smile 24/7, run around the huge store like a madman. Also, like other Times Square stores, we usually don’t close until 1 am, which meant I was getting home at like 2:30.
When the pandemic first started getting really serious in New York and my job said we’d be closing for two weeks with pay, I was honestly relieved. I would be able to get some proper rest for the first time in more than a year. Applying for unemployment in New York was a nightmare at the time, [but] I got lucky and got my application through. For the first time in my life, I had money in my savings. I saved every penny I could. The only time I ever really spent money was to get necessities and some new professional clothes.
Americans need these enhanced benefits now more than ever. We need to pass the HEROESAct to help get Americans back on track.
Sign the petition now!
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