Last week, the United States saw a staggering 3.28 million workers file for unemployment benefits, shattering the previous record of 695,000 claims filed in October of 1982. With businesses closed and people sheltering at home, there is little doubt that we are heading for a recession — and in a worst-case scenario, a steep recession followed by a sustained depression.
In an attempt to bandage this economic hemorrhage, the Federal Government passed the $2 trillion CARES package. More a relief package than an economic stimulus act, CARES provides emergency fixes, but does not go far enough. More phases to this legislation are hopefully coming as Congress dukes it out on the Hill to ensure all Americans are protected and cared for in what is an unprecedented global pandemic.
The good news is we don’t need to wait for Washington policymakers to make moves to protect Black and Brown communities and women who are facing higher levels of job loss and economic insecurity due to COVID-19. A lot can be done at the local and state levels, and localities are stepping up to fill much needed gaps to ensure racial and gender justice stays front and center in our response to the pandemic.