19:41 GMT30 September 2020
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    As US unemployment numbers surge and somes states weigh the risks of scaling back COVID-19 novel coronavirus restrictions for the sake of the economy, many Americans appear to believe the federal government needs to put more focus on its citizens, rather than businesses.

    Personal finance website WalletHub argued on Tuesday that during these questionable economic times in the US, most Americans are in positive agreement on receiving government aid.

    Citing its nationwide “Coronavirus Relief Survey,” the website noted that 84% of Americans polled would like another round of checks to be issued to taxpayers, on top of the funds released earlier this month as part of the historic $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

    The 350-respondent, nationally representative survey posed a number of questions to taxpayers concerning their attitudes toward the federal government’s stimulus package, the recipients of said funds and the government’s overall approach and urgency to help.

    While certain criteria, such as marriage, children and one’s reported earnings, impacted if and how much one could receive from the package, a third of those polled said that they plan to donate a portion of their funds to those in need during the pandemic.

    Unemployment Expectations 

    At the same time, 56% of respondents expressed they do not support the idea of those receiving unemployment aid taking in more cash than they were making prior to qualifying for the program.

    In accordance with the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, individuals receiving unemployment compensation will receive the normal benefits offered in their respective states and, until July 31, also take in an extra $600 per week. This is a significant rise from the previous weekly benefits average, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated was around $387 nationwide for February.

    The WalletHub survey revealed that when it comes to the generational divide, millennials were 25% more likely than baby boomers to believe stimulus checks should only be provided for individuals who are suffering income loss as a result of COVID-19 and related containment policies.

    US President Donald Trump informed reporters Wednesday evening that he had signed a proclamation ordering the suspension of immigration to the US for at least a 60-day period to "ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs" when novel coronavirus restrictions are lifted, despite the fact that the so-called reopening of the US will be staggered and based on each state governor's timeline.

    “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad,” 45 said during Tuesday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

    JPMorgan economists have estimated that the American workforce will see an approximate 20% unemployment rate in the April jobs report. Last week, unemployment claims surpassed 22 million as more than 5.2 million Americans submitted requests for compensation. Experts predict claims will reach the 25 million mark by the month’s end.

    Iffy on Federal Funding 

    With large companies receiving millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees that were purported to be reserved for small businesses struggling during the pandemic, 70% of Americans polled are in agreement that government assistance should only be extended to businesses actually losing revenue.

    When it comes down to recipients for relief, 50% of respondents said they believe small businesses take priority in needing stimulus funds, and a close 47% of those polled said consumers should be at the top of the list. Only 3% claimed big businesses needed stimulus funds more than any other group.

    Shake Shack, which pledged to return a $10 million small business loan it secured via Washington’s Paycheck Protection Program, said Sunday that it had adequate support from capital accessed in public markets and would not need federal assistance. Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti told CNBC the company is capable of sustaining “long-term stability,” and by not making use of the $10 million loan, “now it’s time for us to help our friends in the industry do the same.”

    Though many respondents to the survey appear to have good intentions when it comes to COVID-19 assistance, WalletHub noted the increase in funds - and probably desired escapism - will also contribute to drug use across the nation, as an estimated 24 million Americans are expected to use their stimulus funds to buy alcohol, marijuana, tobacco or other drugs.

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    alcohol, marijuana, drugs, loans, public health, virus, coronavirus, COVID-19, economic stimulus, unemployment, US economy, Donald Trump, pandemic
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