301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

7.16.20 – CI:  Zachary Comeau 

Congress still has yet to reach a deal on what will be in the next round of coronavirus relief, but there are indicators that it will help your AV firm.

A fifth coronavirus relief bill is currently being debated by U.S. lawmakers, but neither party can agree with the other on the bill’s size and scope.

However, there are likely to be initiatives that help both your company and employees, according to media reports.

According to a Washington Post story from earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a five-year liability shield for businesses.

McConnell has consistently said the next bill will include liability protections for businesses, health-care providers, universities and schools. He offered a time period for these protections on Monday, saying he envisioned a “narrowly crafted liability protection” for activities related to the novel coronavirus that would kick in December 2019 and last through 2024.

The Post also reported that another round of stimulus checks to Americans could be part of the next bill, although checks may only be given to people making around $40,000 or less.

Politico reported on Wednesday that some lawmakers, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, want to see more relief for businesses, like a payroll tax cut.

One issue that media reports suggest is holding up a bill is whether to extend the extra $600 in weekly unemployment assistance. That provision is scheduled to end at the end of this month.

According to an L.A. Times story from Wednesday, Congress is inching closer to an agreement to extend those payments to at least some workers. That could include a reduced or more restricted federal subsidy for the nearly 50 million U.S. workers who have applied for unemployment since the pandemic began.

Read Next: Congress to Extend Paycheck Protection Program for Five More Weeks

Per a study from J.P. Morgan Chase, the added unemployment benefits actually helped the economy. Although aggregate spending of the employed was down by 10%, spending by people recieiving the $600 per week increased by 10%.

“The fact that spending by benefit recipients rose during the pandemic instead of falling, like in normal times, suggests that the $600 supplement has helped households to smooth consumption and stabilized aggregate demand,” the study found.

If the measure isn’t extended, the result will be large spending cuts that could have negative effects on both households and macroeconomic activity.

If consumers aren’t spending, then many of your AV clients will have to cut spending.

That measure in particular could be a double-edged sword for integrators that were forced to lay off or furlough some workers earlier this year.

For many unemployed workers, they’re now making more than they were when on the payroll. If the measure is extended, they might not want to come back to work.

If it’s not extended and your company isn’t yet ready to bring back those workers, your employees are left fending for themselves.

With the deadline fast approaching and no visible sign from Congress that they’re closer to a deal on the unemployment assistance, now is a good time to reach out to your furloughed employees and decide if the business is ready to scale back up.