Business Report: Stimulus bill, small business closings, flawed unemployment counts

Bipartisan group of lawmakers propose a new $908 billion stimulus bill to help communities get through winter

The latest attempt to get more COVID-19 relief money from Washington came Tuesday when a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a new $908 billion stimulus bill. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) was among those unveiling the legislation, stating, “We cannot allow some to prioritize politics over the pandemic.”

The four-month emergency relief package is designed to help communities get through the winter months. It includes more Paycheck Protection Program loans for businesses, money for state and local governments, and supplemental insurance benefits, among other items. It does not include another stimulus check. This latest effort comes as some programs put in place by Congress earlier this year, including an extension of unemployment benefits and a moratorium on student loan payments, are set to expire later this month.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testified on Capitol Hill about the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. Powell said small businesses need more financial help, as a lot are at risk of going out of business this winter and many have already shut their doors. According to a Harvard University data tracking project called TracktheRecovery.org, as of mid-November, 31% of New Jersey’s small businesses were closed, compared to January.

A government watchdog group says the closely watched weekly unemployment report is providing an inaccurate count of the number of newly-unemployed workers. The Government Accountability Office says there are flaws in the federal government’s collection of data.