Experts discuss impact of additional jobless relief for Oregon’s economy

Coronavirus

OED: $7B in benefits is mostly spent in local communities

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Senate Democrats started procedural votes Tuesday to launch a process aimed to fast-track President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan past Republican opposition by a March deadline.

Biden’s plan includes a third round of stimulus checks, added federal jobless relief and a $100 boost to the weekly federal aid for the roughly 18 million Americans still receiving unemployment insurance.

Some, however, have questioned the impact of a third stimulus check versus additional federal unemployment benefits. We asked the Oregon Employment Department and an economist about the impact both would have on our local economy.

“When we look at the impact in Oregon for example, we talk about the $7.1 billion in benefits that have been paid out and most of that gets re-spent in local communities,” said OED Director David Gerstenfeld. “[It] helps support those businesses and kind of mitigate the impact of the recession.”

President of the Portland-based economic consulting firm ECONorthwest John Tapogna said the continued aid is working on several fronts.

“It is helping us not only make ends meet, make a rent, provide money for groceries–but it’s also giving us the patience to continue the fight on the public health front, which is absolutely critical,” said Tapogna. “And by all accounts is going to get much worse before it gets better.”

As of now, Oregon’s extended unemployment benefits are set to end February 20. OED said when that ends, people who are still impacted will be moved to the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program.

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