President Joe Biden has signaled that one of his administration’s key objectives will be reviving a wavering economy hit hard by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. He has outlined a few plans for creating jobs and improving the lives of workers nationwide, with the American Rescue Plan at the forefront of such efforts.
A Moody’s analysis of Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package projected that it would create 7.5 million jobs by December this year and generate another 2.5 million in 2022. While that could be good news to the approximately 11 million people who are currently unemployed – about four million of which have been so for six months.
In addition to jobs programs, Biden’s plan includes a number of measures meant to protect employment and improve working conditions for those who are currently employed. Still, there’s no guarantee that all of these plans will come to fruition as each of the president’s proposals needs to pass must with Congress, which will also decide how much to spend on such measures.
Read below for more information about Biden’s proposals and what Congress may have to consider.
Expand Unemployment Benefits
In addition to what people receive through their state’s unemployment benefits, Biden is proposing adding a $400 weekly supplement. The current $300 supplement authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act is set to expire in March, which is when Biden’s new supplement would begin and last through September this year. People who have already exhausted their unemployment benefits would be able to receive these weekly distributions.
In addition to this supplement, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – which provides benefits to gig workers and independent contractors – would also be extended through September.
Create Emergency Paid Sick & Family Leave Expansions
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provided a $1,000 weekly benefit for up to 12 weeks, expired at the end of last year. Biden’s American Rescue Plan proposes reviving and expanding benefits for paid sick, family, and medical leave for employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden’s plan differs from last year’s in that employees who need to take pandemic-related leave may receive $1,400 per week for up to 14 weeks. Pandemic-related leave would include quarantining after exposure to the coronavirus, caring for a family member who is ill, or providing care for children who are engaged in remote learning.
Raise the Federal Minimum Wage
Several states have already raised or plan to raise their minimum wages to $15, and the Biden Administration is calling upon Congress to do the same for the federal minimum wage. At $7.25, the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009 and falls well below what many states provide to their employees – even if they aren’t offering $15 yet.
A new federal minimum wage wouldn’t be implemented immediately, but instead scheduled in rising annual increments until it reached $15. Tipped employees and employees with disabilities, who can earn less than the federal minimum wage, would also benefit from Biden’s proposal to raise the minimum wage for everyone in the country.
Establish a Public Health Job Corps
On Jan. 27, Biden signed an executive order authorizing a hiring initiative aimed at creating jobs to combat climate change and promote conservation efforts. Specifically, they would serve infrastructure improvement, sustainability, and goals for clean energy. Jobs would also be targeted in areas of the country where they’re needed the most, instead of relying on workers to relocate in search of them.
Invest in Job Training
Although no action has yet taken place, Biden campaigned on investing $50 billion in job training. This program would focus on providing training opportunities lasting from a few months to two years in high-demand industries. Biden also promised to consider increasing the number of possible apprenticeships by collaborating with unions, which would supervise such training programs.