Micro-analysis of economic stimulus

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So, some of y’all Gentle Readers have been hearing about people making more money from Unemployment Insurance than we were making in our paychecks.

Your Humble Blogger is one of those people. I have no idea how typical my situation is—almost certainly not very typical at all—but I thought I would pass it along, just in case anyone is thinking about, oh, contacting their legislators about another federal stimulus package.

I am on furlough from my job at a mid-sized university. I would go back on the payroll this afternoon if they allowed me to, even though it would mean less money coming in this week.

In part, sure, I miss my co-workers and the students and faculty, but mostly I would go back because in the long run, I need a job and I don’t know how easily I can get another one. My unemployment insurance for the twelvemonth that started in March will run out at the end of the summer, unless the rules are changed. If I were to go back to work tomorrow there would be at least a little left in the pot in case I lose my job in December or January, to stave off the wolf from the door for a few weeks while I scramble for work. My spouse continues to be the main breadwinner for the household, so we’re not as frightened as all that, but we can’t afford to live where we do if I don’t have any income. There’s no particular reason to think I’ll be laid off permanently, but there’s no guarantee—my return to payroll has already been put off for several weeks.

The “extra” money has come to perhaps $3,000 over the last ten weeks (I say ‘perhaps’ because the tax situation isn’t clear to me, honestly; it’s taxable income but I don’t think taxes are being withheld at my usual rate) and more than that over what “ordinary” unemployment insurance would have paid without the stimulus. What that money has allowed us to do is to keep spending money at something close to our usual level—more or less the same groceries (when they’re available), replacing our offsprings’ worn-out clothes, paying the mortgage and utilities, continuing to buy restaurant meals (take-out instead of eat-in, obviously) etc—while preparing for the real chance that I won’t have any income at all in a few months. The money we’ve spent didn’t keep any businesses open for three months, I’m sure, but it’s possible that if all the people furloughed by the University had cut back spending the way we would have had to, there would have been more people laid off at restaurants and grocery stores and clothing stores and so forth than there were. And if the people who were laid off at those places had cut back their spending…

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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