How Omicron Could Prompt Discussions for Further Relief Payments?

COVID-19’s Omicron version is quickly spreading. According to CNBC, new COVID cases reached a seven-day average of 265,000 instances during the last week of December, surpassing the previous high of 252,000 cases set on January 11, 2021.

The new variant’s symptoms are milder, resulting in quarantines and increasing absenteeism, as well as supply chain disruptions and the closure of several schools. On the plus side, there are fewer hospitalizations and deaths than there were in January 2021 with the initial strain of COVID, resulting in a milder economic impact.

Furthermore, despite approximately 62 percent of the US population being completely vaccinated, an alarming percentage of vaccinated persons are contracting the virus. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, some communities have seen as many as one in every 100 occurrences of breakthrough infection.

Despite the Rising Omicron Cases, Weekly Unemployment Claims in the United States Have Increased Little:

As a result of rising COVID-19 infections disrupting company activities, the number of Americans submitting new jobless benefits claims unexpectedly increased last week.

However, the Labor Department reported a slight increase in initial claims on Thursday. The labor market is tightening as a result of a severe labor shortage. A significant increase in claims is unlikely, as coronavirus infection, driven by the Omicron variety, is projected to peak shortly.

“It’s plausible that COVID’s current spread has halted the prior declining trend,” said Daniel Silver, an analyst at JPMorgan in New York. “However, the fact that claims have not materially increased in response thus far is a positive indicator for the labor market.”

For the week ending January 1, initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 207,000. Reuters polled economists, who predicted 197,000 applications for the most recent week. For a long of December, claims were hovering around 200,000. They are down from a peak of 6.149 million in early April 2020, which was a new high.

The Us Economy:

While severe unemployment and unprecedented layoffs characterized the early days of the epidemic, the tide has finally flipped in workers’ favor.

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“With millions of job postings unfilled,” Mills said, “Congress will be cautious to grant something that may be regarded as a deterrent to filling those positions.”

That isn’t to say that support isn’t available.

According to Dave Kamper, senior state policy coordinator at the Economic Policy Institute, states and municipalities still have $90 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was approved last year.

They are slated to get $150 billion more later this spring. Schools received $120 billion, much of which may not have been spent, he added.

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One-way states could help is by providing paid sick and family leaves to workers now that federal measures have expired. While some states like New York do this, more could add these programs to help alleviate the burdens of the pandemic, Kamper said.

Is Another Stimulus Check on the Way to Help the Economy in the United States?

Some politicians and organizations are advocating for a fourth stimulus payment, or possibly monthly payments until 2022. Over 4 million individuals signed petitions on Change.org advocating for $2,000 recurring monthly payments for US residents.

21 Democratic senators signed a letter to President Biden this spring urging regular monthly contributions as well.

A fourth stimulus check, however, does not appear likely, according to Wall Street experts, in part because putting additional money into the economy may increase inflation.

“One reason of inflation has been an increase of demand fueled by fiscal stimulus,” Brad McMillan, a chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial Network, stated in a letter carried by CBS News. Inflation and supply chain issues would continue to reduce now that the stimulus has finished, he said.

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