ISSUE 61 | MAY 8, 2020
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Renters face uncertainty amid COVID-19 outbreak
At the beginning of the month, rent was due for more than 1.5 million households in Pennsylvania. Many of these households are struggling to pay due to:

  • loss of income

  • difficulty obtaining assistance in the form of stimulus checks and unemployment benefits

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered a moratorium on evictions, but it expires on May 11. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has sent letters urging landlords to continue delaying evictions into July.

New report on the reach of energy efficiency programs to low-income multifamily housing
The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania recently published a report analyzing the Act 129 Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) program and the extent to which it benefits low-income households.

According to the authors, low-income families generally spend at least 20 percent of their incomes on energy.

The report suggests that these families can benefit significantly from EE&C solutions, but that consistent, standardized data reporting on the topic is currently lacking.

PA tax revenues plummet as top state official warns that reopening will not end economic pain
Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue has reported that the commonwealth’s tax revenues fell $2.2 billion in April – far below official estimates. The decline largely results from:

  • the state’s extension of the deadline for filing personal income taxes

  • high unemployment and business closures.

These losses are expected to grow in the near future.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
As states reopen, unemployed workers face choice between safety and money 
As governors begin to ease restrictions on business operations and social distancing, unemployed workers will likely be required to choose between finding employment and staying safe at home without income. These are the concerns:

  • Under federal guidelines, people receiving unemployment benefits risk losing those benefits if they do not accept offers to return to work

  • Returning to work may enhance exposure to the coronavirus.

When prisons are “petri dishes,” inmates say they cannot guard against COVID-19
In prisons and jails across the nation, inmates often live in crowded quarters without sufficient protective equipment to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Thousands of inmates have been infected as a result.

Some corrections departments have started taking steps to mitigate this issue, such as:

  • distributing masks to inmates

  • temporarily releasing nonviolent offenders.

States made it difficult to get jobless benefits. Now it is difficult to undo.
After the Great Recession, many states implemented strict guidelines for unemployment compensation recipients. For example, some:

  • required workers to document their job searches

  • required in-person registration with employment services

These demands have persisted in state unemployment systems and are now preventing people from receiving benefits during the pandemic.  

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