Confusion over COVID-19 stimulus causes ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ for SC resident

Updated: Aug. 9, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After President Trump announced multiple executive orders aimed to stimulate the economy, it still wasn’t clear to experts what this means for South Carolina.

These orders come as Congress is struggling to reach a deal on another coronavirus stimulus package.

University of South Carolina economist Joey Von Nessen said the two orders that have the potential of stimulating the state’s economy the most are the orders on payroll taxes and the potential increase to unemployment insurance.

The President's actions on payroll taxes would only apply to people who make less than about $100,000, but it is currently a deferral and not a cut, Von Nessen explained. However, the President and members of his administration have said it is possible the deferrals would be turned into cuts if the President is reelected. Von Nessen said if the payroll taxes are deferred, it may not stimulate the economy because businesses may hold onto any extra funds in anticipation of a bill later in the year.

The President also announced he would give people who are unemployed an extra $400 a week.

This is less than the $600 many were receiving before the CARES Act funding expired at the end of July, but economists note this money would not be distributed the same way as the previous funds if it’s given out at all.

As the order is written, in order to receive the funding states must pay 25 percent of the $400 per person, which is $100 a person from taxpayers.

“Regarding the $400 unemployment insurance extension, that is something states can opt into and we don’t know at this point which states will be opting in or whether South Carolina will be opting in,” Von Nessen said. “That’s something we will probably learn from Governor McMaster or his office in the coming days. And that will give us some indication of the timing and whether or not South Carolina will opt in,” he added.

Gov. McMaster’s office did not respond to WIS’ questions on this topic at this time.

But for some people the confusion in Washington is causing a headache back at home. Greenville resident Carrie Holland is a single Mom of two boys. Before the pandemic hit, she had just gotten a new job and was able to afford living in new home with her family.

This was a major milestone for Holland as she was leaving behind the homeless shelter where she was living for more than a year without her children. In the middle of March she lost her new job, struggled to get on unemployment insurance because she was only in her new role for a short time, and was only able to receive the pandemic unemployment assistance after calling the Governor’s office three times, she said.

The extra money kept her afloat and able to care for her kids.

“Throughout this whole pandemic it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions to fear to, ‘okay, we will be ok..’ to a fear we will lose that [extra unemployment assistance],” Holland said.

She said listening to President Trump’s announcement yesterday was a rollercoaster all on its own.

“You know just upon hearing it you’re like, ‘okay, great. Now, I’m not gonna have to worry so much about how I’m going to buy groceries or pay your bills.’ And then, I was talking with a family member and she was explaining to me you know, what the state is going to have to do to receive that…I just don’t see it happening,” she said.

Holland is one of about 210,000 people currently unemployed in South Carolina, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And despite needing the money, Holland thinks $400 dollars a week is a lot for the government to be giving out to people. She, like some Republican lawmakers like Sen. Lindsey Graham, worry that government incentives will keep people from going back to work. But, Holland says she keeps seeing jobs that pay only about $10 an hour or are part-time. She said she can’t find a full-time job that can pay the bills.

Holland said even $200 extra week would be enough to relieve her worries until she can find work, which she says she is desperate to do.

“I need to work. I need our lives to be moving forward and our lives feel like there at a standstill and it scares me to death because I don’t know how I’m going to make it. I’m fortunate enough to have a home and have people to help me as far as the kids are concerned, but I don’t want to depend on anyone,” she said.

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