Suffering continues while awaiting next round of federal aid
Many sectors of the U.S. economy continue a slow but steady recovery from the COVID-19 slowdown. By the end of September, the national unemployment rate had dropped to 7.9 percent, down from 8.4 percent in August.
In Pennsylvania, the unemployment rate had dropped to 10.3 percent in August, down by 2.2 percentage points from the month before, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Labor and Industry, which indicated it will release September numbers for the state on Oct. 16.
But as we and many others have warned, some businesses — and millions of their employees — continue to struggle. In addition, a significant number of companies failed to weather the coronavirus storm. They have closed their doors forever.
In the news recently have been airlines. Passenger count is everything for them. With it down drastically, most carriers are struggling. Allowing them to go down would be an economic disaster — affecting first smaller airports.
We already have been concerned for Williamsport Regional Airport, which just began a month without flights from its sole carrier, American Airlines. Just one month without local flights is bound to have a ripple effect of its own that will be felt throughout the business community.
Less noticed have been other businesses such as restaurants. They have been affected by the double-whammy of fewer potential customers and restrictions on the number they are permitted to serve.
COVID-19 is far from finished with the U.S. economy and with millions of men and women who have never asked for handouts in their lives. They just want to work.
Nearly $3 trillion in federal aid linked to the epidemic has helped some people and their employers survive — but in many programs, the cupboard is bare of money to provide the aid many still need.
We all know why: politics. Democrats and Republicans have been haggling for weeks over a new relief package.
Without taking sides, it is fair to note that much of the disagreement is over hundreds of billions of dollars in proposals that have no direct connection to the pandemic.
Both sides express optimism that negotiations will bear fruit.
Again without taking sides, politics has been called the art of compromise. Clearly, some of that is needed now.
With every day that passes, the suffering continues for many, many people and companies that need help to survive not their own mistakes but a tiny virus. Some employers will not make it through the crisis unless federal aid is rushed to them.
Both the White House and members of Congress need to keep that at the top of their minds.