The economy of the United States has taken an unprecedented hit due to COVID-19. We’ve been through some stuff in our lifetimes, but never before has everyone been affected. Of the 74 million women in the U.S. workforce, less than 14 percent are Black. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black women are nearly 30% of all service workers. The service sector is among the hardest-hit in this sudden Coronavirus shutdown.
The Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor reminds us that 80% of all Black mothers work, so the effects are likely to ripple through the Black community for years. And we won’t even talk about the impacts of losing a family’s breadwinner to the virus.
All this adds up to a lot of work ahead to support each other. No one will be able to recover alone.
Here’s what you need to know about the recent legislation passed by Congress to provide relief for Americans and how to access it.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants every American adult making less than $75,000 a one-time payment of $1,200. If you make more, you’ll get less – but you’ll still get something. The money should flow into our bank accounts in the next three weeks.
Those who file their taxes regularly will get their payments first. If you haven’t filed a tax return for 2019, they will send payment based on your 2018 tax return.
Those who don’t routinely file will have to quickly file 2018 taxes. A “simple” tax return will be sufficient. There will be help available to assist. See the Internal Revenue Service website (IRS.gov) for detailed eligibility requirements.
Unemployment is distributed through state governments. The CARES Act adds $600 per week in unemployment to the amount you currently qualify for. The program currently extends through July 31, 2020.
Self-employed persons whose income has dried up due to COVID-19 are also eligible for this weekly $600 additional Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The program for self-employed persons will be available through December 31, 2020.
In order to file, you should contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as possible. This is a quick guide for how to file for unemployment benefits online in every state.
The Act also provides an additional $377 billion for businesses. This will be disbursed through commercial banks, as emergency loans, loan forgiveness, and tax relief.
It has four components: the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, the SBA Express Bridge Loans, and SBA Debt Relief. If you are a small business owner, you can email the Small Business Association directly (DisasterCustomerService@SBA.gov) or call their disaster assistance customer service center (24/7): 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) .
Social Security recipients will automatically receive an “Economic Impact Payment.” It will come via the same means as their regular social security payment. No action is required.
Here are some other important community and business resources:
- If you’re able to keep your business open, here’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on how to prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19.
- Here are other Coronavirus Relief Options from the SBA. These include debt relief and government loans to help meet payroll.
- The US Chamber of Commerce offers this guidance to help you apply for this relief.
- The Center for Urban and Racial Equity has curated this COVID-19 Equitable Response for people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, low-income persons, and incarcerated people.
- The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is sharing these Updates on COVID-19 Policy & Black Communities.
We could go into a soliloquy about the resilience of Black folk, and how women are the backbone of one recovery after the next – whether economic or cultural.
Black women are believed to be workhorse tough, though not so delicate, and not so much in need of help. Even our girls are judged tougher than everyone else’s girls.
Well, we’re calling BS on ALL that. We’re going to need to dig deep to pull ourselves out of this one. And we’re going to need each other.
We must also demand that our government treat our applications for Coronavirus disaster relief with the same seriousness as other applicants. Because historically, there has been no equity for us.
So, we may have to make some noise. Black businesses with paid employees generate over $103 billion in revenue. That’s a big stake! We cannot be ignored.