Under normal circumstances, officials seeking reelection in just a few days would be happily reporting the glowing news of a strong rebound in the economy. But that’s not American reality today.
Job losses remain very high and the brutal truth is they are going to continue, at some level or another, until the COVID-19 menace stops having its malign impact on consumer spending. We worry about the future.
Thursday's report from the U.S. Labor Department said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits tumbled by 1 million to 8.4 million.
That means people are getting their old jobs back or finding new ones, but the Associated Press reported that it also indicates that many jobless Americans have used up their state unemployment aid — which typically expires after six months — and have transitioned to a federal extended benefits program that lasts an additional three months.
Without jobs, there is less money for food and rent and other bills. And in a state like Louisiana, where there are a large number of renters, the rent check is a big part of the typical family’s outlay.
Even with federal rules trying to limit evictions, this newspaper’s John Simerman reported from the front lines of a guerilla war between landlords and folks who can’t pay their rent. In New Orleans’ city courts, there have been battles over the provisions of the latest federal moratorium on rent payments.
The story highlights not only the travails of jobless renters, but also the many mom-and-pop landlords who rely on checks to pay bank notes or fund their own grocery bills.
“This is horrible. I feel like we’re both losing in this situation,” a tenant said. That might be applied to many problems, particularly for those whose jobs have evaporated — greater New Orleans is heavily dependent on tourism — rather than merely shifted to at-home work on computers.
Like many others, we’d say both sides have been losing on Capitol Hill, where citizens’ hopes for a new relief bill were stymied by political warfare. The lack of action has undermined what faith Americans have retained in their government.
We again hope that Congress will act and not dither further. We are not deficit-spenders; in fact, America should have been paying down its bills in the last few years of a strong economy, not adding to deficits. But in such a profound economic slump, federal relief is called for.
We’re both losing. So true.