Stimulus Aims to Support Unemployed, Jump-Start Economy
American Rescue Plan Act signed into law. The latest round of stimulus, at $1.9 trillion, is the second largest package ever passed by Congress. The spending bill contains relief for individuals, states, and schools, as well as new financial resources for vaccine distribution. Additional funding is allocated to restaurants, which could support struggling establishments after a winter spike in cases forced many such businesses to shutter or sharply curtail occupancy. Passed along party lines, the bill may represent the last round of stimulus to combat the economic damage caused by the global health crisis. The Biden administration has signaled a welcoming stance to further spending, though a rapidly falling case count could end the need. Inflation concerns may also prompt greater pushback from budget hawks.
Extended unemployment insurance benefits apartment owners. The previous stimulus passed in December as part of an omnibus bill had pushed federally sponsored unemployment benefits out to March, supporting apartment rent collections. The percentage of apartment owners collecting rent had slowly declined, falling to a cyclical low in January at 93.2 percent. That figure ticked up in February as unemployment payments that expired at the end of last year were reinitiated. The latest stimulus extends federally funded unemployment insurance to September of this year at $300 per week. A combination of rising retail openings and federal unemployment assistance should help return rent collections to pre-recession levels.