Wall Street Journal: As $600-a-Week Jobless Aid Nears End, Congress Faces a Quandary

By Eric Morath and Te-Ping Chen
Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2020

Some 25 million Americans are set to lose $600 a week each in federal unemployment benefits at the end of the month, one of the thorniest issues Congress faces when it returns to Washington this week to consider another coronavirus relief bill.

Many people view the payments as a lifeline, and analysts say the $15 billion a week in federal spending has provided vital support to an economy staggering from the effects of the pandemic. ...

Other businesses worry that a reduction in federal payments will hurt consumer spending.

Ashraf Hijaz owns Beauty & Beyond, a chain of 25 beauty-supply stores based in Montgomery, Ala. Early spring is typically one of the busiest times of year for the stores, but this year business dried up. Mr. Hijaz said many customers lost jobs and diverted tax refunds to pay for rent and groceries, rather than splurging as his stores.

However, business ramped up in recent months, and the company recorded its best June sales in 20 years of operation.

Mr. Hijaz said it is hard to hire additional workers, but if sales decline later this year, he will likely have to lay off existing staff.

“If they stop the unemployment checks, that will be scary for my business,” he said. “It’s going to have an effect on the economy.” ...

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Copyright 2020 Wall Street Journal

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