While we wait for the Senate to act, the $600 a week additional unemployment benefit is expiring, as is the moratorium on evictions. Coronavirus cases continue to climb, as over 144,000 people in the US have died and the hardest hit have been communities of color. Over 50% of households have lost income from work between March 14 and July 14. For Latinx households, the number is 62%; for Black households, 57%; for Asian households, 52%; for white households, 45%.
According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, in May, Wisconsin had an unemployment rate of 12.0%, one of the highest rates ever recorded. Roughly 375,000 more state residents are without jobs compared to February. Approximately 720,000 Wisconsinites, representing 23% percent of the state’s February labor force, have filed unemployment insurance claims since the beginning of March. Hardest hit are the workers least able to withstand sustained periods of unemployment – restaurant and retail workers, domestic workers, agricultural laborers . Not coincidentally, these jobs also tend to be primarily held by women, especially women of color.
Congress needs to act now to address the growing health and economic crisis. The national Center on Budget and Policy Priorities lays out in brief what we need:
“more federal aid to states, cities, and towns so they don’t have to lay off teachers and public workers and cut vital services for seniors, families with children, and people with disabilities; temporarily increasing SNAP benefits, housing assistance, and tax credits for low-income families and workers to help people pay the rent and buy food; creating emergency grants for states and tribes to help low-income households, including immigrants, facing severe hardship; and continuing expanded federal unemployment benefits.”
Aid must be robust and comprehensive to stave off a wave of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, shuttered businesses, and increased hardship for children, the elderly, the disabled, and communities of color. Immigrant families, thus far left out of previous COVID relief bills, must be included. Corporations must not be protected against accountability for unsafe working conditions. And aid must continue for as long as it is needed, not ended prematurely at an arbitrary preset deadline.
Please contact Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin today and let them know we need a relief plan that addresses the needs of our states and our communities, regardless of immigration status, and prioritizes people over corporations. We demand better relief for our families; we demand better relief for our children; we demand better relief for the tens of millions of people across the country who look to our elected officials to be the moral, just, and compassionate leaders we need them to be.