Colorado Needs Federal COVID Relief

With the COVID-19 pandemic on the rise across the country again, the peak of summer is colliding with difficult times for millions of Americans. Adding to the health crisis across the country, many provisions from the COVID-19 relief bill (CARES Act) passed in March have recently expired. That includes enhanced unemployment insurance benefits and an eviction moratorium on federally backed properties. The CARES Act also included one-time stimulus payments of $1,200 and money to help state and local governments weather the storm. Those were all helpful in the short-term. but most of that has been exhausted by now.

Without extensions of many of these provisions, the current economic crisis will only deepen and spread for millions of people in the country — and hundreds of thousands in Colorado. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act in May, which would have extended and renewed many of the most crucial parts of the CARES Act, but the Republican-led U.S. Senate has not passed anything. This has led to an approaching tidal wave that is about to break on the shores of the American economy.

Related: Federal Funds Are Important: Why Colorado Needs Support Now More than Ever

Much research has been done to put some data behind the true economic costs of inaction. The numbers need to lead to an urgency to get money and relief to Coloradans and Americans across the country:

  • GDP in the United States contracted by 32.9 percent from April through June, the largest drop ever, beating the 10 percent contraction in the first quarter of 1958.
  • State and local governments have lost 1.5 million jobs since February. In Colorado, that number is 26,000 jobs and 6 percent of all public sector jobs. Of public sector education jobs (K-12 teachers, support staff, and administrators, as well as higher education staff ), that number is 1,700 and 1 percent compared to this time last year. Those latter numbers will likely rise as schools fail to reopen in the coming months.
    • These jobs are overrepresented by women and Black Americans, which should increase the urgency to address this issue, as this recovery needs to be an equitable one. Women make up nearly 60 percent of public sector jobs, compared to 47.4 percent of the private sector workforce. Black workers are 14.1 percent of the public sector compared to just 11.5 percent of the private sector.
  • According to the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, 47.3 percent of Coloradans over the age of 18 have seen a loss in employment income since the pandemic began. That same survey shows that 20 percent of Coloradans have housing insecurity.
  • As of July 28, right before expanded unemployment insurance benefits expired, 11.3 percent of Coloradans had filed for unemployment insurance. That adds up to more than 360,000 workers in the state.
  • As of June 30, 7 million children nationwide live in a household that is behind on rent and between 8 and 15 million children do not have enough to eat because their family could not afford it.
  • If unemployment insurance benefits are cut by $400 per month, as proposed by Senate Republicans, Colorado would lose 44,599 jobs or 1.6 percent of the labor force because of the loss of purchasing power by those with less money.
  • Colorado has already allocated the federal support for state and local governments that will expire at the end of the calendar year. Without more funding, state and local governments will see massive budget shortfalls, leading to service cuts and job losses throughout the state.

These numbers can seem overwhelming, but the story they tell is very clear: Without federal assistance to families and state and local governments an unfathomable number of people across Colorado and the country will be in dire straits. The best time for the Senate to move forward was yesterday. The next best time is today. Time is wasting for millions of families and they cannot wait any longer.

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