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In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has passed the New Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This financial relief program includes several programs such as PUC, FPUC, retirement plan provisions, and funding for Short-Time Compensation (STC) programs. 

What Is A Short-Time Compensation Program?

Short-Time Compensation, also known as shared-work program or work sharing, is an alternative to layoffs for employers whose available work has reduced. It allows employers to reduce working hours of employees instead of laying-off some employees. This program protects employers’ trained workforce and employees’ jobs during times of lowered economic activity. 

For instance, an employer might reduce his/her employees’ working hours by 10% instead of laying off 10% of his/her full-time workforce. 

STC or shared-work programs are administered by state governments. The requirements may vary with states but they must meet certain federal requirements to receive funding for the programs. This includes:

  • The reduction in number of hours worked must be in lieu of layoffs 
  • Employers must report the estimated number of layoffs that would have occurred in the absence of STC program
  • The amount of UC payable must be in a prorated portion of what the employee would be receiving if he/she did not participate in the program 
  • Employers who offer health, retirement, or other benefits must certify that participating employees are still continuing to receive the benefits even after their work hours has been reduced 

Who Can Qualify For An STC Program?

To be eligible for an STC program, employers must have an approved STC plan with an appropriate state agency. The STC application process is initiated by employers. 

To qualify for a shared-work program, employees must be determined to qualify for UC benefits. While receiving benefits under an STC plan, employees need not meet work search or availability requirements, but must be available for their normal workweek. If the state requires, the employees should also serve “waiting week,” a non-paid week.

Does The Short-Time Compensation Program Help Employees?

The STC program not only helps employers but employees as well. That is, those employees who have experienced a reduction in working hours and lost a portion of wages can collect a percentage of unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. 

Unemployment benefits generally replace half of an average employee’s wages. If an employee has experienced a 10% reduction in working hours, UC benefits would account to 5% of the employer’s wages before the working hours were reduced. Employees would therefore receive a combined income of 95%,i.e., 90% as wages plus 5% as STC. 

Which States Have A Short-Time Compensation Program?

27 states have STC programs that meet the federal definition under Code Section 3306(v), and 26 among them have operational programs. The states that offer STC programs include:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Florida
  7. Iowa
  8. Kansas
  9. Maine
  10. Maryland
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Michigan
  13. Minnesota
  14. Missouri 
  15. Nebraska
  16. New Hampshire
  17. New Jersey
  18. New York 
  19. Ohio
  20. Oregon
  21. Pennsylvania
  22. Rhode Island
  23. Texas
  24. Vermont
  25. Washington
  26.  Wisconsin

With extra funding available for STC programs under the CARES Act, it is expected that more states will implement these programs.

Where Can You Apply For STC Programs? 

You can apply for STC programs through your state’s Unemployment Insurance agency. But before applying you must draw up a plan which must include: 

  • How many working hours will be reduced?
  • How many employees will be affected due to reduced hours?
  • How will the employees be notified about the reduced work hours?

It should also include:

  • A statement that benefits will be provided to employees even after reducing work hours
  • An estimate of the number of employees who would be laid off if a STC program is not implemented
  • Certification that affected employees can take part in training to upgrade their job skills during the shared-work program

Details Required While Applying For STC Program

You have to provide several information while applying for a shared-work program. They include:

  • Your company’s name, telephone number, address, fax number, and contact details for an authorized representative
  • Names and social security numbers of employees who are affected due to reduced work hours
  • Your tax account number 

Is An STC Benefit Taxable Income?

Yes, an STC benefit is taxable income. Individuals who have received STC benefits should fill a Form 1099-G from the state where they have filed a claim, to show the amount received. 

Closing Thoughts

STC programs can help you not only retain trained employees but also improve the morale of your business by avoiding layoffs. For employees, these programs do not replace 100% income but can help you if your work hours are reduced. However, if you are still laid off under unfortunate circumstances, you can apply for other unemployment benefits programs like Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, etc. under the CARES Act. 

On March 27, the U.S. Congress announced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, And Security (CARES) Act. This act includes wide-ranging implications, including changes to unemployment insurance benefits, support to businesses, and self-employed. The CARES Act also consists of a retirement plan and Individual Retirement Account (IRA) provisions. In this article, we will walk you through the retirement plan provisions under the CARES Act. 

The Coronavirus-Related Distributions

The CARES Act allows plan sponsors (company or employer) to offer a new type of distribution known as the Coronavirus-Related Distribution (CRD). This distribution can be made from qualifying retirement plans that start on January 1, 2020, and end on December 30, 2020. 

Eligibility For Coronavirus-Related Distributions

To qualify for the coronavirus-related distribution, you must be a “coronavirus-affected individual.” That is,

  1. You are diagnosed with the Coronavirus by a Centers for Disease Control(CDC) approved test
  2. Your dependent or spouse is diagnosed with the Coronavirus by a(CDC) approved test
  3. You are unable to take employment due to the Coronavirus child care issue
  4. You experience the adverse financial problem as a result of being quarantined, reduced work hours, laid off, or furloughed due to the Coronavirus
  5. You have experienced other factors as listed by the Secretary of the Treasury
  6. You have closed your business or reduced work hours

The plan administrator may rely on your certification to determine if you satisfy the criteria to be a coronavirus-affected individual.

Required Minimum Distributions

For 2020, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) needed for defined contribution retirement plans need not be made. This applies to certain retirement plans and IRA accounts, including:

  • Defined contribution 401(a) qualified plans including 401(k) and profit-sharing plans
  • Government defined contribution 457(b)
  • Defined contribution 403(a) and 403(b) plans

The suspension of the RMD applies to those who have attained the age of 70 1/2 before January 1, 2020. If you have turned 70 1/2 in 2019 and were waiting to take your 2019 distribution, you need not take your 2019 or 2020 RMD. If you have already taken your 2019 or 2020 RMD but is still within 60 days from the RMD date, then you can roll back your distribution to a qualified plan or IRA to avoid any penalty. 

Can You Take Loans From Your Qualified Retirement Plan?

The CARES Act allows you to take loans from your employer-sponsored retirement plans to meet your financial needs during a crisis. Earlier, the loan limit was $50,000, but the Cares Act has temporarily increased the loan limit to $100,000. 

The CARES Act has also shelved the rule that limits the individual to borrow their fully vested balance up to 5-%. It now allows you to borrow up to 100 % of your vested amount. For instance, if you have $20,000 in your 401(k), you can borrow the entire amount. 

Should You Pay Taxes On Withdrawing Money From Your Retirement Plan?

Coronavirus-Related Distributions are not subject to federal income taxation. However, the amount of the CRD is included in gross income for federal tax over the 3-taxable-year beginning with 2020. You can choose to include the total amount of the CRD in gross income for federal tax for 2020 than spreading it over 3 years.

You can pay the money to an eligible retirement plan during the 3-year period that starts on the day after the distribution date. Repayments within the 3-year will result in the CRD not being subject to federal income taxes. But if the federal income tax has been paid already, then the authorities may permit you to receive a refund of that amount.

 

 

 

 

 

The Coronavirus pandemic outbreak has affected the Americans like never before. Many businesses have shut down, and millions of people have lost their employment. To provide Americans with economic assistance, the U.S. Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act. This act offers unemployment benefits to the unemployed in addition to supporting business operations through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

What Is a Paycheck Protection Program?

The CARES Act includes a $2 trillion stimulus package that provides financial relief. While a portion of the package is given as unemployment benefits, about $349 billion is dedicated to the Paycheck Protection Program. This program provides federally guaranteed loans to businesses to cover their payroll and other costs.

Which Businesses Qualify For The Paycheck Protection Program?

Not all businesses qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program. Only those with 500 employees or fewer are eligible for PPP. This includes independent contractors, sole proprietorships, private non-profits, the self-employed, and 501(c)(19) veterans organizations. For the hospitality and foodservice industries (with a NAICS 72 code), the limit of employees may vary with the location.

Additional Eligibility Requirements

To receive the loan, you must also meet additional requirements. This includes:

  • Your business was in operation on February 2020
  • You have paid the payroll taxes and employed salaries 
  • You have paid your independent contractors

Which Businesses Do Not Qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program?

Though some businesses have 500 or fewer employees, they still do not qualify for the PPP loan. These include:

  • Businesses who lend, invest or speculate (Banks and investment companies)
  • Passive businesses (Landlords)
  • Political and policy lobbyists
  • Multi-level marketers
  • Gambling and marijuana businesses
  • Businesses who promote religion
  • Household employers 

What Can the Loans Be Used For?

You can use the loans for:

  • Payroll purposes including employee benefit costs (like health insurance and retirement contributions)
  • Rent or under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020
  • Interest on mortgage obligations that incurred before February 15, 2020
  • Utilities for which the service started before February 15, 2020

What Is Counted As Payroll Costs?

Payroll costs include:

  • Wages, salary, tips, or commissions (capped at $100,000 yearly per employee)
  • Compensation to or income for an independent contractor or sole proprietor that is less than $100,000 
  • Employee benefits including parental, medical or sick leave, or costs for vacation, 
  • Allowance for dismissal or separation or dismissal
  • Local or state taxes imposed on employee compensation
  • Retirement benefits

Where Can You Apply For A Loan?

You can apply for a loan through any Small Business Administration (SBA) lender. The SBA collaborates with about 1,800 local lenders to provide loans. 

When applying for a loan, you have to provide a good-faith certification to justify your loan request. You must acknowledge that the loan will be used to maintain payroll and retain your employees. Also, you must certify that you haven’t received any loan under the Paycheck Protection Program or have any loan applications pending. 

Documents Required While Applying For A Loan  

You must submit a copy of the following documents while applying for a loan.

  1. 940, 941 or 944 payroll tax reports or Form W-3 or Schedule C of 2019.
  2. Payroll reports for the 12-months of 2019 that show the gross wages for each employee, including 
  3. Paid time off for each employee
  4. Family medical leave pay for each employee
  5. Vacation pay for each employee
  6. State and local taxes imposed on each employee’s compensation

    Will The Loan Be Forgiven? 

    Yes. Complete or portion of your loan may be forgiven, provided you use it on eligible expenses. When you receive the loan, you have 8 weeks to utilize the loan.

    Note –

    The loan has a 1% interest rate and maturity of 2 years. 

    Neither the federal nor local lender charges any fee during the process.

    How To Request Loan Forgiveness?

    You can request loan forgiveness by applying it to your local lender. Your application should include: 

    • Documents that determine the number of full-time equivalent employees on your payroll 
    • State income, payroll, and unemployment insurance (UI) filings
    • Payroll tax filings reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
    • Documents that verify payments on covered lease and mortgage obligations 
    • Documents that verify covered utility payments

    The lender can take up to 60 days to decide on your application. If approved, the lender will report the expected forgiveness amount to the SBA. The SBA will forgive the loan within 15days. 

    How Much Amount Can A Business Receive? 

    You can receive a loan that is 2.5 times your average monthly payroll. The amount is capped at $10 million. The loan amount is calculated by considering your average monthly payroll for January and February 2020 for new businesses or the previous year for old businesses. 

    The Paycheck Protection Program is expected to end on June 30, 2020. If you meet the eligibility requirements, then quickly file for a loan and get benefited.  

     

    Ever since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the United States has witnessed a surge in unemployment insurance (UI) benefits applicants in addition to SNAP food benefits. The UI benefits provide financial aid to the unemployed, but what are SNAP food benefits? Read through this article to know more about SNAP food benefits and eligibility criteria.

    What Are SNAP Food Benefits?

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program, provides food assistance to families with low to no income in the United States. The primary purpose of this program is to raise the nutritional level of such people. The food stamp program allows eligible families to buy nutritious food using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

    SNAP food benefits is a federal government aided program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of (FNS) the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But the benefits are distributed by the states.

    Who Is Eligible For SNAP Food Benefits?

    To qualify for the SNAP food benefits, you must meet certain financial and non- financial requirements. Non-financial requirements include work registration, citizenship/alien status, state residency, and cooperation with the IMPACT program. Financial requirements include:

    • You can have assets worth up to $5,000. Assets include cash, vehicles, bank accounts, personal property, real estate, etc. 
    • You must clear a gross income test (130% of poverty). The gross income is based on your household size and gross monthly income received by all family members

    The elderly and disabled also qualify for the SNAP benefits even if they receive meals at their facility. The eligibility criteria for the elderly and disabled are as follows.

    • The elderly must be the residents of federally subsidized housing 
    • Disabled persons living in nonprofit group living arrangements 

    SNAP Work Requirements 

    In addition to financial and non-financial criteria, you must also meet specific work requirements to qualify for food stamp benefits. The SNAP has two sets of work requirements. 

    (1) If you are age 16-59 and can work, you need to meet the general work requirements such as registering for work, taking a suitable job if offered, and participating in SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) or workfare program. Also, you shouldn’t quit your job voluntarily or reduce your work hours below 30 a week without any valid reason. 

    However, you can be excused from the general work requirements, provided

    • You are working at least 30 hours a week or earning wages equal to the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 work hours
    • You meet work requirements for TANF or unemployment compensation
    • You are unable to work due to mental or physical limitations
    • You are an incapacitated person or are taking care of a child under the age of 6 

    If you are required to meet the general work requirements, but you don’t, then you are not eligible for receiving the SNAP food benefits for at least a month. However, if you start meeting the requirements, you can qualify for the SNAP benefits. But if you don’t meet the criteria after qualifying for SNAP, then you will be disqualified for a longer duration. 

    (2) If you are age 18-49, do not have any dependents, and can work, you have to meet the general work requirements as well as an additional work requirement for ABAWDs. You can meet the ABAWD work requirements by:

    • Working at least 80 hours a month
    • Taking part in work programs such as SNAP Employment and Training or other local, state programs for a minimum of 80 hours a month
    • Participating in a combination of work program and work for a minimum of 80 hours a month

    However, you can be excused from the ABAWD work requirement if:

    • You are unable to work due to a mental or physical limitation
    • You are pregnant

    How Are SNAP Benefits Calculated?

    The SNAP or food stamp benefits are calculated based on factors such as your household’s maximum gross income and size of your family.

    How To Apply For SNAP Food Benefits?

    Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can apply for food stamp benefits. To apply for the benefits, visit your state’s webpage, and fill the form. If it does not have a form on the website, contact your local SNAP office. 

    When you apply for the benefits, the Family Support Division (FSD) will verify the information provided and then process the applications. If you provide the required information while applying for the benefits, FSD will process your benefit quickly. 

    How To Use SNAP Benefits?

    When you qualify for SNAP benefits, you will get an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. Using this card, you can buy items such as:  

    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Dairy products
    • Bread and cereals
    • Fish, meat, and poultry
    • Snack and non-alcoholic beverages
    • Plants and seeds which produce food for the household 

    You cannot buy items like:

    • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements
    • Beer, liquor, tobacco, or cigarettes
    • Live animals 
    • Meals fit for immediate consumption
    • Pet foods
    • Cosmetics and hygiene products

    Final Words

    If you qualify but haven’t applied for food stamp benefits, do it now! If you are already receiving the SNAP, then you get extra on your EBT card during the current Coronavirus crisis. 

     

    With the Coronavirus pandemic spreading rapidly across the United States, businesses continue to shutter, causing millions to lose their jobs. As per the latest reports, the unemployment rate has reached 11%, and nearly 26.4 million people have filed for unemployment insurance benefits. Big companies like JCPenny, Under Armour, etc. have begun furloughing their employees only to add to the unemployment. Conversely, many businesses are looking to expand their workforce to meet the spike in demand for their products or services. So which companies are hiring people during the Coronavirus pandemic? Find out here!

    List Of Companies Hiring People During The Coronavirus Pandemic

    1. 7-Eleven

    7-Eleven is the #1 convenience store for essential items such as food, groceries, etc. With consumers stocking up on these items, the company is looking forward to boosting its business. Recently, 7-Eleven announced that it would hire 20,000 employees nationwide to meet the increased demand. It is hiring people for cleaning stores, stocking shelves, and delivering products ordered through its 7NOW delivery app. 

    2. Ace Hardware Corporation

    Ace Hardware is the largest retail hardware cooperative in the United States. The company and its independent retailers are looking to hire 30,000 employees for their 4,300 locally owned stores to meet the demand. The Ace Hardware Corporation is hiring for full-time, part-time, and seasonal positions.  

    3. CVS Health

    With consumers stocking up medical and health supplies, CVS Health has witnessed an increase in prescription delivery volume by 300% during this pandemic. To meet the demand, the company is considering hiring about 50,000 temporary, part-time, and full-time employees. 

    4. Amazon 

    Amazon is a leading e-commerce company. Ever since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the company has experienced a surge in online sales. Besides announcing an increase in pay-per-hour for U.S. employees, the company is also looking to expand its workforce. Recently, the company has announced that it would hire 10,000 part-time and full-time employees across the United States. Further, it is also considering hiring another 75,000 employees to meet the rising demand for its services nationwide.

    5. Walmart

    Walmart is the largest retailer in the world. To meet the spike in demand, the company has decided to hire about 150,000 new employees. The company, however, has announced that the positions are temporary but, over time, may be converted to permanent positions. Besides, Walmart is offering $150 to $300 bonuses to its full-time and part-time employees working hard to keep the grocery chain stocked.

      6. Kroger

      Kroger, the second-largest general retailer in the United States, is hiring new employees to meet the increased demand for groceries and other products. The company is looking to employ about 20,000 people across retail stores, distribution centers, and manufacturing plants.

      7. Instacart

      Instacart is a pickup and grocery delivery company. It is planning to hire 300,000 full-time service shoppers to meet the demand of online grocery delivery. The company has also announced that it will on-board additional employees over the next 3 months. 

      8. United Parcel Service

      With Americans practicing self-isolation, social distancing, and work-from-home, the need for home package deliveries has increased significantly. To meet the rising demand, the company, in addition to working extra hours, is hiring additional employees to the team. The position includes a warehouse worker, a package delivery driver, etc.

      9. FedEx

      FedEx is another popular company offering delivery services in the United States. The company is hiring 500 full-time and part-time employees nationwide. The positions include package handler, package recovery agent, operation manager, etc.

      10. Gojo

      Hand sanitizers have become an essential item in recent times. Given the panic buying and shortages of the product, manufacturers like Gojo are ramping up the production. The company has announced that it will hire more people for its two manufacturing plants. 

      The list of companies hiring people is not limited to those mentioned above. Businesses in telecommunication, retail, delivery sectors are also looking to expand their workforce to keep up with the demand. 

      It is wiser to take up employment regardless of whether you get full-time, part-time, or temporary jobs, to meet your financial needs in these difficult times. But make sure the company you are working for takes precautionary measures like monitoring employee temperatures, social distancing, distribution of masks, and hand sanitizer to avoid any possible infections. 

      If you have not found any suitable job, you can still make it through your financial crisis by applying for the Coronavirus Stimulus package or UI benefits, provided you meet the eligibility. 

      Recently, the U.S. Congress and President Trump passed a $2 trillion Coronavirus stimulus package to help Americans facing economic hardships due to the outbreak of the pandemic. As a part of this financial relief measure, the federal government if offering a $1,200 stimulus check to the claimants through direct deposit or paper check. 

      As millions of Americans eagerly wait for their money, cybercriminals or fraudsters are tricking people and trying to steal their money. If you are one among those expecting the Coronavirus stimulus check, then watch out for these red flags to avoid losing your money to scammers.

      1. Requiring You To Fill The Paperwork 

      Some sites or businesses may ask you to fill out paperwork to receive your stimulus check. But the truth is that you are not required to fill any paperwork to get your money or accelerate the process. The only way you can speed up the process is by signing up to a direct deposit with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

      2. Asking For Your Personal Information

      As long as you have filed income taxes for 2018 or 2019, the federal government will have all the necessary information required to send your stimulus check. This means that you need not give your personal information to anyone or sign up for anything. If any person or website is asking you to enter your personal information, then cross-verify if the site is authentic or fraudulent. 

      3. Claiming To Be A Member Of IRS Agency

      Scammers may call you and claim they are from the IRS or any other government agency. If you receive any voicemails or phone calls, then ignore them as the IRS won’t follow any of these approaches to reach you. 

       The Federal Communications Commission has a few fake audio samples of the voicemails regarding Coronavirus student loans, testing kits, etc. which you can hear to understand how scammers work.

      4. Asking You To Click Links To Get Your Money

      Besides text messages or phone calls, fraudsters may also send you emails or text messages and ask you to click them. The text messages may include a link for “additional information,” that, when clicked, may redirect you to a site trying to collect your personal information. If you receive any suspicious emails, text messages, attachments, or links that claim to be from the IRS, then report it to the concerned authorities or forward the mail to phishing@irs.gov. 

       Also, beware of the apps that pop up solely about the Coronavirus. Such apps might include malware and collect your personal information.

      5. Asking For Direct Deposit Account Information

      The Internal Revenue Service will give you the stimulus check through direct deposit using the banking information provided by you while filing the income tax return. If you do not have direct deposit information, you can submit your banking information to the IRS via an online portal. If not, you can receive the money through a paper check. 

      The IRS has issued a warning about the online stimulus check scams and has requested taxpayers not to share the direct deposit or other banking information with others to enter into the secure portal on his/her behalf.”

      6. Requesting You To Verify Your Check Amount 

      The IRS calculates the Coronavirus stimulus payment based on the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) provided by you in your 2018 or 2019 tax return information and number of children. Typically, individuals with AGI less than $75,000 will receive $1,200, married people having AGI less than $150,000, and are filing jointly, will receive $2,400, with an additional $500 per child. 

       Beware of the checks that show up an odd amount and require you to call a specific number to verify the amount as it could be a trap laid by a fraudster. 

      If you want more information or any updates on Coronavirus stimulus check, visit the IRS’s economic impact payment website. If you come across any bogus calls or factors mentioned above, report it to https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

       

      The outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic has obstructed the operations of various industries, causing millions of Americans to lose their employment. In response to the rise in unemployment, the Senate and House have passed the Coronavirus stimulus package to help the unemployed make it through the time of crisis. 

      What Is a Coronavirus Stimulus Package?

      The Coronavirus Stimulus package is a financial rescue measure given by the federal government to stimulate a floundering economy. The package will provide relief to the unemployed through a range of measures, including an advance tax repayment to taxpayers.  

      Who Is Eligible For Coronavirus Stimulus Payment?

      American citizens are only eligible to receive the stimulus payment, provided they meet certain eligibility criteria. The U.S. government will check the person’s tax filing status and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to determine the eligibility and allotment. The U.S. residents who are eligible for payment include:

      1. People who have filed a federal income tax return for 2018 or 2019 can expect to get the money.

      2. Social Security recipients with income below the threshold level. 

      3. People with an AGI below the threshold for their filing status qualify for the payment.

      4. Individuals who are receiving unemployment benefits with AGI below the determination threshold limit.

      5. People with income less than $12,200 and married couples with wages less than $24,400. 

      6. Disabled with income less than the threshold level.

      Under no circumstances, nonresidents and dependents are not eligible for the payment. However, individuals who claim extra for dependents can get an additional amount. 

      How is Coronavirus Stimulus Payment Calculated?

      The Coronavirus Stimulus Payment is calculated based on your adjusted gross income and filing status.

      1. If you are a single filer with an AGI up to $75,000 a year, then you will receive payment up to $1,200.
      2. If you have a spouse and are filing jointly with an AGI up to $150,000 annually, you can receive money up to $2,400.
      3. If you are head of your household and a taxpayer with an AGI up to $112,500 a year, you will receive a stimulus payment of up to $1,200.
      4. If you are a taxpayer with income above the threshold level, then you will receive your payment reduced on a sliding scale. 
      5. If you have children below the age of 17, then you will receive an additional $500 per child. 

      How Will You Receive Your Stimulus Payment?

      The Stimulus payment will be paid to the claimants through direct deposit. But if the beneficiary doesn’t provide Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with direct deposit or has closed that account, the amount will be paid through a check with “President Donald J. Trump” printed on the memo line.

      How To Track The Status Of Your Stimulus Payment?

      You can track your Stimulus payment amount through the IRS’s Get My Payment page. When you visit the site and click the Get My Payment button, you will be redirected to a new page that guides you through the authorized use. Click OK on that page to redirect to the Get My Payment page. 

      Next, enter the individual tax ID (ITIN) or social security number (SSN), date of birth, address, and postal code and click the continue button. Now the page will show you the payment status. 

      The Get My Payment site page will also allow taxpayers to update their mailing information and bank account details. This is only for people who have filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, but their payment hasn’t been sent yet. People who haven’t filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 must file a 2019 return to receive a check.

      If you were not required to file an income tax return in 2018 or 2019, then you can enter your personal and bank account information in the IRS’s online tool to receive your payment. 

      Is The Coronavirus Stimulus Payment Taxable?

      No, Coronavirus Stimulus Payment is not subject to Federal or State income taxes. The stimulus payment can be considered as a tax credit for 2020 taxes. If your 2020 tax return is more than the credited amount, then you will receive the difference next year. If your income dips in 2020, then you will be eligible for remaining rebate credit.

      If you haven’t applied for the Coronavirus Stimulus Payment yet, do it now. However, make sure you use the official sites announced to file a claim and are aware of the scammers. 

      Due to the devastating effects of COVID-19, the nonfarm payroll fell by 701,000 in March and, the unemployment rate spiked up to 4.4%. It is the first decline in payroll since September 2010. 

      March saw the unemployment percentage increase by 0.9%, which is the highest over the month increase since January 1975. March also saw the number of unemployed people rise from 1.4 million to 7.1 million. 

       The unemployment rate, which rose to 4.4%, is the highest since August 2017. Its effects can be seen throughout several industries. The leisure and hospitality industry, professional and business services, social assistance industry, retail trade, and construction were some of the worst affected due to the ongoing pandemic.

      Due to several layoffs across industries, unemployment claims spiked across the country. Several state unemployment offices could not take the increased pressure of applications, causing their servers to crash. The Federal government and state governments are trying their best to expand the unemployment insurance framework so that unemployed people receive benefits ASAP. To know more about filing for UI in the times of COVID-19 click here

      Here Are Some Key Takeaways About The Unemployment Report

      Major Ups and Downs in March

      459,000 job losses took place in the leisure and hospitality industry. Most of the job losses took place in the food and beverage vertical. The accommodation industry also saw a loss of 29,000 jobs in March. 

      The health care and social assistance industry also took a big hit due to the ongoing pandemic. Employment dropped by 61,000 in March, with dentists, physicians, and a lot of general health practitioners losing their jobs. This industry was doing reasonably well over the last year, adding 374,000 jobs, but COVID-19 changed things drastically.

      19,000 jobs were lost in the social assistance vertical, with the largest amount of job losses taking place in child daycare services. 

      The professional and business services sector saw job losses of 52,000, with the temporary health services sector getting hit the hardest. 

      The retail trade sector saw  46,000 job losses. The sectors affected were clothing accessory stores, furniture stores, and music stores.

      The construction industry saw a decrease of 29,000 jobs in March, with the nonresidential and civil engineering construction sector getting hit the most. The mining industry was also hit hard and saw job losses of 6,000 

      Not all hope was lost, as the Federal Government employment increased by 18,000, and general merchandising stores hired 10,000 people. 

      Establishment Survey Data

      The average hourly earnings for private nonfarm payroll employees went up by 11% and currently stands at $28.62. There was a slight decrease in the average workweek for all private nonfarm payroll workers, and it dropped by 0.2 hours to 34.2 hours. 

      The hourly earnings for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees spiked up by 10 cents to $24.07. Production and nonsupervisory employee’s average workweek decreased by 0.3 hours to 33.4 hours. 

      The number of jobless people who were out of work for more than 5 weeks, increased unemployment to 1.5 million. The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.7 percent in March and currently stands at 62.7%. A total of 109,000 discouraged workers believed that there were no jobs available for them in March. 

        Household Survey Data

      Workers Group  Unemployment Rate
      Adult Men 4 percent
      Adult Women 4 percent 
      Teenagers 14.3 percent 
      White Population 6.7 percent
      Black Population 4.1 percent
      Asian Population  6 percent
      Hispanics  6 percent

      There was an increase in unemployment for all workers groups in March, except for the black population, which saw a decline in the unemployment rate compared to February.  

      Conclusion 

      Clearly, COVID-19 has had a terrible impact on the job market. What’s yet to be seen is,  how fast the American economy can rise to the challenge and conquer this problem. Back when the recession hit in 2008, it took a couple of years for the economy and job market to bounce back. Let’s hope things getter better, much faster this time around.

       

      The novel coronavirus has posed the US government with a dreadful conundrum- save the economy or save lives? It’s a chicken and egg situation. The social distancing and the resultant economic slowdown, spiking unemployment and poverty will endanger people.  Without these measures, lives will be lost due to disease and co-morbidities. This begs the question: how is the US equipped to deal with a pandemic breakout? Is there coronavirus preparedness?

      The government has made the obvious choice to save lives on priority. A researched model from Imperial College London is the basis of this decision. It suggests that without stringent measures COVID-19 can potentially kill 2.2 mn Americans.

      Experts from UCLA estimate that the tightening government restrictions will cause 2 mn job losses and raise the national unemployment rate to more than 5%. This is if social distancing measures are not needed well into the year. 

      Emerging Unemployment Crisis In The United States: What Coronavirus Is Doing To The US Economy

      The world remembers the 2008 Global Financial Crisis that began in the United States. That crisis began with the banking sector due to bad mortgages. The Coronavirus effects on the economic slowdown are from many economic sectors simultaneously, like travel, tourism, restaurants, movie theatres etc. shutting down. 

      Here are some of the sectors shutting down and the ripple effects they will have across the economy:

      • Detroit automakers are temporarily shuttering production to try to contain the spread of coronavirus. Millions of workers and parts suppliers not to mention sales professionals will be affected.
      • New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are temporarily closing all indoor shopping malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys. These entertainment centers employ thousands of employees earning hourly wages.
      • The capital markets are in jeopardy with fluctuations in all the indices. The Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates to zero.
      • Many eateries and restaurants have been forced to shut down.
      • The real estate sector is seeing trickle-down effects as people save funds for emergencies (and buying houses is not one). Similarly, the tech devices companies will also see effects soon.
      • Delayed shipments from China jeopardize many consumer goods companies.
      • By contrast, supermarkets and food processing industries might see a brief revenue spike. It is however unlikely to last as people will stop having cash to spend over time.

      There has been a huge jump in the number of claims filed for unemployment insurance, reflecting the increasing number of layoffs. 

      • Rhode Island alone has 17,779 claims for unemployment insurance over just 8 days.
      • Oregon has had a jump from 800 on March 16 to nearly 19000 on March 18.
      • Texas saw more than 16,000 people filing for unemployment insurance between March 10 and 16.
      • Hawaii’s state labor department website crashed due to over 3000 claims being filed on a single day, March 18.
      • 30,000+ claims have been filed in Connecticut since 13th March.

      Typically the number of claims filed on an average in a week number about 4000 in normal times.

      The full extent of the pandemic is yet to make itself clear.

      Preparedness Of The States To Meet The Financial Requirements Of UI

      An important concern is whether the states have adequate funds to pay out the unemployment insurance benefits. This is reflected in the solvency of the states’ trust funds. What does this mean?

      Solvency refers to the ability of an entity, the State Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in this case, to meet its long-term financial liabilities. To understand whether the states’ funds are solvent, we look not at the dollar amount but at the ratio of the fund balance to the wages paid out that year, called Reserve Ratio.

      Consider this graph sourced from the US Department Of Labor which ranks the states on the State Trust Fund Solvency. It is worrisome to see States like California, Texas and New York in the red. They host some of the largest employers.

      Only 31 out of the 50 states have funds that are at or above the recommended amounts for solvency. One reason why so many states are underprepared may be that there are no federal requirements for any minimum amount of funds that should be maintained in a state’s trust fund.

      states fund solvency

      If states use up all of their funds on UI payments, they can pay out pending claims by borrowing from the Federal government through the Title XII program. They will have to pay interest on these borrowings, which they may finance through private sector borrowing instruments or through tax revenue deductions by the Treasury Department.

      The aid package being planned will not be meant to finance UI alone. If the global production stoppages continue for months, it is unclear how unemployment insurance payments will be extended beyond the usual 26 week period. Not all states will qualify for the extension of an additional 26 weeks.

      Can The Proposed Aid Package Spur Coronavirus Preparedness?

      Lawmakers are weighing a $1 trillion assistance package to small businesses, to keep them afloat during the coronavirus outbreak. The aid will likely have preconditions as measures to force bailed out companies to keep workers on their payrolls. These may include limits on executive compensation, and prohibitions on stock buybacks which have risen to unprecedented levels in recent times.

      Many states have submitted requests to the U.S. Small Business Administration for the extension of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses. They are facing the brunt of the slowdown.

      The President has signed into legislation The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

      which gives $1 billion to the states so they can meet the administrative costs of processing unemployment insurance. This will briefly rescue those 23 states with very low UI funds even before COVID-19 hit. Read all about the new law here.

      Are You Eligible For UI Benefits If You Lost Your Job Due To Coronavirus?

      To help the newly unemployed, the U.S. Department Of Labor has announced unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs temporarily. However, having understood the state of emergency, the authorities have eased the eligibility criteria. Know the updated rules of UI benefits before filing a claim. 

      Most states have passed executive orders exempting people from the work search requirements. The waiting period of a week to receive the first payment has also been waived. Even part-timers and the self-employed are now eligible, as are those forced to remain away from work due to illness or caregiving duties.

      Despite the eased rules, those who haven’t met the minimum number of hours of work, or those who haven’t worked in a specific state long enough may find their application rejected. Those ineligible for UI but eligible for Disability Insurance or Family Leave should certainly apply for those.

      What Is The Likely Future And How Much Coronavirus Preparedness Do We Need?

      More easing of UI norms will be needed along with longer payment periods to support the larger numbers of unemployed citizens.

      So far, the government safety net to help the unemployed does not appear sufficient to handle the surge in the claim numbers. Labor websites have been crashing across the states and phone lines have been jammed. The departments find themselves woefully understaffed as some states have recalled retirees and temporarily hired staffers to handle the new claims.

      Many employees are under quarantine leading to calls going unanswered.

      The Families First Coronavirus response Act is a good start but a more robust response is needed for coronavirus preparedness. It only provides relief to employers with less than 500 employees, and their employees, not addressing bigger employers or groups like students and gig workers who move around a lot.

      There is little doubt that coronavirus has taken the world by storm. With West Virginia reporting a confirmed case, all 50 states in the United States are now affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The deadly virus is not only leading to the shutdown of the states and assaulting the U.S. economy but also is increasing the unemployment rate. For those losing employment through no fault of their own, filing for UI benefits can be an effective way to overcome the unexpected financial crisis.

      Amid the outbreak of coronavirus, many states have eased the unemployment benefits criteria and are offering immediate financial relief to those who have lost employment owing to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts such as travel restrictions, project cancelation, temporary shutdown of social gathering places, etc.

      In this article, we will have a detailed look at the number of COVID-19 cases in popular states, the unemployment rate, and the unemployment benefits (UI) offered.

      STATES CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES UNEMPLOYMENT RATE 2020 UI BENEFITS (MAX/WEEK)
      Florida 48,675 3.5 $275
      Michigan 53,510 3.8 $363
      California 88,201 3.9 $450
      New Jersey 153,441 3.8 $696
      Illinois 102,868 3.5 $648
      Nevada 7,255 3.6 $426
      Ohio 30,212 4.1 $598
      New York 366,357 3.8 $435
      North Carolina 21,220 3.6 $350
      Pennsylvania 69,372 4.7 $561
      Oregon 3,817 3.3 $538
      Washington 20,026 3.9 $713
      Connecticut 39,208 3.7 $688
      Kentucky 8,286 4.3 $502
      Virginia 34,137 67 $378
      Georgia 40,663 3.1 $330
      Minnesota 18,200 3.2 $740
      Maryland 43,531 3.3 $430
      Massachusetts 90,084 2.8 $1153
      Indiana 29,936 3.1 $390
      Colorado 23,191 2.5 $573
      Louisiana 36,504 5.3 $284
      Tennessee 18,961 3.3 $275
      New Hampshire 3,935 2.6 $427
      Missouri 11,655 3.5 $320
      Iowa 16,170 2.8 $559
      Wisconsin 13,885 3.5 $370
      Oklahoma 5,680 3.3 $520
      Alabama 13,288 2.7 $265
      Utah 7,874 2.5 $543
      Arizona 15,315 4.5 $240
      South Carolina 9,379 2.4 $326
      Rhode Island 13,571 3.4 $707
      Arkansas 5,458 3.5 $451
      Hawaii 647 2.7 $630
      Kansas 8,673 3.1 $474
      Maine 1,877 3.1 $667
      Idaho 2,534 2.8 $414
      West Virginia 1,603 5.0 $424
      Montana 479 3.5 $518
      Nebraska 11,425 2.9 $414
      Delaware 8,386 4.0 $330
      Vermont 950 2.4 $466
      Mississippi 12,222 5.5 $235
      Wyoming 801 3.7 $489
      Alaska 402 6.0 $442
      District of Columbia 7,788 5.2 $444
      South Dakota 4,250 3.4 $390

      Have you lost your employment due to the Coronavirus? File a claim for unemployment benefits through a hassle-free process and get benefited during this tough time.

      https://fileunemployment.org