More Money On The Horizon?
More Relief Money On The Horizon? $1200 Spent
Editor’s Note: The current version has been updated with graphs for illustration.
May 21, 2020, at 4:19 a.m.
Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, it didn’t take long for the U.S. government to respond. On March 27, President Trump signed a coronavirus aid bill, better known as the CARES Act. This act approved a $2 trillion relief package that would assist small business, the airline industry and most importantly, provide $1,200 to American citizens who qualify. The immediate announcement had people ecstatic that they would be getting $1,200, especially at a time when millions of people almost instantly became unemployed.
“I’m definitely happy about getting this check. I did not expect my job to close its doors, and we don’t know when it will be back to normal. I just look at it as $1,200 more dollars than I had before, so I’m just patiently waiting,” said Jenelle Elle, a 24-year-old Atlanta IT Consultant.
Elle’s job shut down temporarily due to COVID-19. When asked how she felt about the stimulus check, this is what she shared.
On May 11, the IRS put out a statement saying that 130 million Americans have received stimulus checks, and that more will come. That “more will come” means a lot, because $1,200 is not enough to cover one month worth of bills for people that live in Atlanta.
As of February 2020, the average rent in Atlanta is $1,467.
Yes, you read that right. One “stimulus” check cannot cover the average rent of one of the fastest growing cities in America. That even neglects your expenses for eating, , paying your car note, phone bill, utilities, and this is all assuming you’re single. If you have children or support your family, your monthly expenses are most likely higher than the average single person. With over 6 million people filing for unemployment over the last month and a half, these stimulus checks are not enough.
Jada Moore, a University of Georgia graduate student, discussed whether or not the $1,200 checks were enough to sustain people through this pandemic.
“Of course it’s not enough. They didn’t give out checks based on income to ensure people could continue to pay bills and eat every day. I think they should have given people a small lump sum for everyday necessities and provided businesses (apartment complexes, car dealerships, phone companies, insurance companies) enough money that enables them to cease people’s bill payments until [the pandemic is] over.”
Maybe Moore is on to something. If $1,200 can’t even cover rent in Atlanta, how long will people last? More importantly, how are people spending the $1,200 knowing that it might not even put a dent in their bills.
Sean Peele, a previous Amazon consultant, who just became a father a year ago, gave us a breakdown of how he spent his stimulus check (his check was $1,700 because of his son).
Peele spent his $1,700 on:
- $1000 – Rent
- $100 – Groceries
- $120 – Phone Bill
- $150 – Car Note
- $250 – Car Insurance
- $80 – Utilities
While the $1,700 was great, it was barely enough to hold Peele over for one month. It’s evident that more is definitely needed to help his future finances due to COVID-19 putting a question mark on when he’ll be able to return to work normally.
Ceirra White, an Atlanta nurse, felt strongly about the need for more assistance.
“This pandemic isn’t going away overnight. It continues to spread and kill people, but the one thing I don’t see slowing down are these bills. The $1,200 helped for this month, but I haven’t got a letter saying that my car insurance and phone bill are on pause until further notice. Thank God I’m an essential worker.”
White spent her $1,200 on:
- $850 – Rent
- $100 – Phone Bill
- $220 – Car Note
- $30 – Utilities
What do you do if you’re not an essential worker and are out of work, though?
With even essential workers claiming that the financial relief is not enough, those without work are highly unlikely to receive adequate assistance through unemployment.
The House Democrats just passed the HEROES ACT on May 12 that would approve a second round of stimulus checks. This bill “calls for giving $1,200 to those earning up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to couples without dependents making double that before phasing out.” The big difference in this bill is that it would pay $1,200 per dependent, rather than the $500 in the first relief bill.
While we don’t know what the future holds with COVID-19 still running rampant, one thing is for sure; the monthly assistance is needed. It couldn’t come at a better time, because as of March 2020, Atlanta’s unemployment rate is at 4.2 percent, steadily increasing since January.
The longer the pandemic lasts, the higher the unemployment rate will be. The longer people are unemployed, the more likely they will feel the need to find other non-conventional ways to provide for their families. The sooner this pandemic ends, the better it will be for everyone.
The only problem is, nobody knows when that will be.