Stimulus aid lifted Americans’ total incomes by $1.1 trillion last year

FILE PHOTO: A woman counts U.S. dollar bills at her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo
A woman counts dollar bills. Reuters
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis data found Americans’ incomes increased by $US1.1 ($1) trillion in 2020.
  • This increase is largely due to government aid such as stimulus checks and unemployment benefits.
  • State personal income also increased by 6.1% in 2020 after a 3.9% increase in 2019.
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A year of pandemic-relief aid, including stimulus payments and unemployment benefits, increased Americans’ total incomes by $US1.1 ($1) trillion in 2020.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis found, in new data released on Wednesday, a huge 36.6% increase in transfer receipts for 2020, which include pandemic aid. In addition, state personal income, or money paid out to people by states, increased by 6.1% in 2020 after a 3.9% increase in 2019, with the percent change in personal income across states ranging from 8.4% in Arizona to 2.4% in Wyoming.

The report found that in particular, the CARES Act’s temporary $US600 ($790) weekly unemployment benefits, along with its $US1,200 ($1,581) stimulus payments, contributed to the increase in transfer receipts.

It added that the increase in transfers occurred in all states, ranging from 64.2% in Hawaii to 23.9% in Arkansas, and primarily reflected an increase in state unemployment insurance compensation.

However, the 2020 estimates of state personal income were impacted by the government’s response to COVID-19, the report said, “as governments issued and lifted ‘stay-at-home’ orders, and government pandemic assistance payments were distributed to households and businesses, ” and as a result, the full economic effects of the pandemic cannot be quantified in state personal income estimates.

The stimulus bill that President Joe Biden recently signed into law included $US1,400 ($1,844) stimulus payments and $US300 ($395) weekly unemployment benefits through September 6. And although the BEA data emphasized the significant benefits government aid has provided during the pandemic, progressive lawmakers want to ensure needed aid does not lapse.

On Tuesday, Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan reintroduced the Automatic BOOST to Communities (ABC) Act, a bill to immediately provide a $US2,000 ($2,635) payment to every American, followed by $US1,000 ($1,317) recurring monthly payments that would continue for a year after the pandemic has ended.

“This unprecedented moment demands an unprecedented response. People don’t only need relief, they need stability, certainty, and predictability and the ABC Act delivers them exactly that,” Japayal said in a statement. “Our legislation acknowledges that a one-time survival check isn’t enough to get people through this crisis. Instead, we send out recurring checks every month during the crisis and for a year after it ends. That is money in people’s pockets, and certainty in their lives.”