Forget About Stimulus. We Need Real Assistance.

The two biggest employers of the working poor are retail and leisure (including restaurants), which are good proxies for the overall economic health of low-income workers. Here’s how they’ve been doing:

In both cases, average weekly earnings have recovered to their pre-pandemic level. Among retail employees, average earnings are actually about $30 per week higher than before the pandemic. So if you still have a job in these industries, you’re doing OK.

Fine. But how many people still have jobs?

Both retail and leisure have suffered job losses. Leisure, in particular, has cratered, losing 8 million jobs at its worst point and still down by more than 4 million jobs today. Now let’s take a look at the big picture:

Overall national income is in good shape. The lesson here is simple: we don’t need $1,200 checks that go out to everyone. We don’t really need a lot of generic stimulus spending at all. Overall income is in good shape thanks to the CARES Act, and as long as you still have a job even the working poor are generally doing as well as they were before the pandemic.

What we need is not generic assistance, but assistance for those who actually need it. Primarily that means those who have lost their jobs, but it also means, for example, assistance specifically to the restaurant industry, which has been decimated by COVID-19. It also means states and cities, which are in dire shape thanks to plummeting tax revenue. That should be the top priority of any future coronavirus rescue package.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate