May 1, 2020 - Economy

The unemployment insurance conundrum

Data: Treasury Department via the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

The PPP initially made headlines for leaving out many small businesses who were muscled out by large corporations and savvier peers with long banking histories, but now even those who secured the funding say the program needs to be overhauled.

Driving the news: "It’s difficult to successfully use the Paycheck Protection Program loan," Jackie Victor, founder and owner of Detroit's Avalon Breads, writes in an op-ed for the New York Times.

  • She points out that requirements for the money to be spent within 60 days, that the business retains all its employees and that it uses 75% of the money for payroll makes practical use of the loan almost impossible.
  • Other business owners point out that for companies with workers who make less than they would through the government's expanded unemployment benefits, putting them back on payroll when they are not allowed to work is cruel and will actually hurt the relationship between employer and employee.

Details: The CARES Act increased eligibility for unemployment benefits, provided an additional $600 per week and extended insurance payments beyond the typical 26 weeks.

  • Since the enactment of those provisions in late March, federal spending on unemployment insurance has risen noticeably, the Peterson Foundation notes in a recent blog.

Go deeper: Unemployment is likely already at Great Depression-era highs

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