LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — If there is no additional relief measure taken, what will life in the pandemic look like for the average Kentuckian?
"That's the kind of thing that keeps me up at night," said Dustin Pugel, a senior policy analyst for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. "The fact that one in four Kentucky renters is in a place where they may lose their home is deeply concerning."
Now that there is a new president and a new Congress, talks are shifting back to relief measures. That's a good thing, according to Pugel. He says the latest reports on unemployment and jobs paint a backslide in Kentucky's economic recovery.
"We're still about 114,000 jobs shy of where we were in February ," said Pugel.
"Really what we need is for Congress - this new Congress - to step up and provide sort of a path through 2021, so that we can, economically, be OK while we roll out vaccines and while we continue to get the pandemic under control."
President Joe Biden already has a plan for this. It's a $1.9 billion relief package called the "American Rescue Plan." Biden says this emergency measure will help the country's economic and health care needs for now.
A big chunk of the money goes towards getting people vaccinated because experts say that will ultimately help the economy. But the plan also budgets in a $1,400 stimulus check for many Americans.
"I think that's helpful for everyone because it stimulates the economy," said Pugel. "It makes sure there's enough money to buy things so the people who make and sell that stuff can continue to stay in their jobs. But it's also extremely helpful for really low-income Kentuckians, and Americans in general, who have seen steeper level layoffs."
Pugel says relief measures will ensure the country is on solid footing post-pandemic.
"We really need to make sure we double down and get out of this on good footing like we didn't do during the great recession."