By Kareem Caryll, J.D.
The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be in sight, but how do we prepare for a new economic environment once the health crisis is behind us? The negative economic impact of the health crisis cannot be overstated. In 2020, the domestic economy contracted by 3.5%, the largest decline since World War II. During the year, the unemployment rate reached nearly 15% at its peak as Americans lost 22 million jobs between February and April. Recent data shows that the economy, while slightly improved, remains in a perilous state. There are approximately 9.5 million fewer jobs than in February 2020. While the unemployment rate currently sits at 6.2%, experts suggest that the real rate is closer to 9.5% after accounting for, among other things, the more than 4 million workers who have dropped out the labor force. These facts do not exist in isolation. When individuals lose their jobs, the impact is felt in many facets of their lives. A January 28, 2021 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities revealed that nearly 1 in 6 adults in households with children lacked sufficient food. 21% of adult renters report being behind on rent. 35% of adults report difficulty paying for usual household expenses such as car payments, medical expenses, and student loans.