America's massive unpaid rent problem could have been avoided if every unemployed person received federal UI benefits and $1,200 stimulus, study says

  • New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia shows that had every unemployed American received the extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance payments, on top of stimulus, then just 125,000 households would be behind on their rental payments by December.
  • This research comes as millions of Americans could face eviction when the national moratorium implemented by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expires at the end of 2020.
  • Even as stimulus negotiations have continued to stall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn't completely dismissed the possibility of collaboration between Democrats and the White House.
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Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia wrote in a new study that had every unemployed American received the extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance payments from the CARES Act, on top of the Economic Impact Payments that the researchers refer to as stimulus, then just 125,000 households would be behind on their rental payments by December.

The study estimates that nearly 1.34 million households, or 4.2% of all renter households, are going to owe $7.2 billion in rent by December. This equates to about $5,400 per household. 

"This scenario assumes that 90% of all households received Economic Impact Payments and that nationally, 50% of workers who have lost a job since March 2020 received CARES UI (from state or federal sources), and 50% did not receive any UI," the study reads. "These estimates are reasonably robust to alternative UI recipiency rates."

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, in March. They haven't passed an additional stimulus package since the spring. 

"Policies designed to replace lost income for unemployed workers … have been very effective at preventing rental debt for those households that receive them," the researchers said. 

This research comes as millions of Americans could face eviction when the national moratorium implemented by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expires at the end of 2020, according to MarketWatch. Record long-term unemployment and permanent job losses continues to linger nationwide, which could spell trouble for renters trying to submit their payments in a timely manner. 

Economists at Yale University this summer didn't find any evidence that the $600 weekly jobless benefits authorized by Congress led to people working less. The Trump administration and other GOP members have been critical of the unemployment benefits, stating that they discourage Americans from returning to work.

"Workers facing larger expansions in unemployment insurance benefits have returned to their previous jobs over time at similar rates as others," the economists wrote. "We find no evidence that more generous benefits disincentivize work either at the onset of the expansion or as firms looked to return to business over time."

Today, Congress has still failed to pass a second bipartisan stimulus package before the presidential election on November 3. Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a $500 billion relief bill, deeming it "skinny" — or not robust enough to provide Americans assistance.

The legislation would have implemented a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit through the end of December, provide loans to small businesses and also provide $105 billion to schools nationwide to help them open. However, the legislation didn't feature the $1,200 direct payments to taxpayers that Democrats on Capitol Hill want to include and say is a priority. 

But even as stimulus negotiations have continued to stall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn't completely dismissed the possibility of collaboration between Democrats and the White House.

"I'm optimistic. There will be a bill," Pelosi said on Wednesday during an MSNBC interview. "The question is, is it in time to pay the November rent — which is my goal — or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive."

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