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Charlotte Talks Politics: Can America's Safety Net Cushion The Impact Of COVID-19?

Library of Congress

Monday, July 20, 2020

Some of the protections that were stitched into the country's social safety net because of the pandemic are nearing an end, including extra unemployment benefits and moratoria on evictions. But the need for public relief shows no sign of ending. 

Unless Congress takes action in the coming days, an estimated 25 million Americans will lose the $600 unemployment supplement that came with the massive coronavirus aid package approved in March. In North Carolina, the unemployment boost would end on July 26, reverting the maximum weekly benefit in the state to $350.

Unemployment is just one piece of the social safety net, and even in pre-pandemic times that safety net had a lot of holes and not much interest in patching them up.  In fact, the president proposed cutting hundreds of billions of dollars out of safety programs earlier this year.

Will the pandemic and the massive need for assistance cause Americans to think differently about the safety net?


Victor Chen, Virginia Commonwealth University, associate professor of sociology, author of “Cut Loose: Jobless and Hopeless in an Unfair Economy” (@victortanchen)

Michele Evermore, National Employment Law Project, senior policy analyst for social insurance (@EvermoreMichele)

Jenny Schuetz, Brookings Institution, fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program (@jenny_schuetz)

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A veteran of Charlotte radio news, Chris joined the "Charlotte Talks" staff in January 2016, but has been listening to WFAE since discovering the station as a high schooler.