After weeks of negotiations in Congress, President Biden has added his signature to a new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 comes on the heels of previous stimulus measures that amounted to roughly $4 trillion in relief for a U.S. economy that saw record losses during the height of the pandemic and is now trending back in the right direction.
The new act carves out $350 billion for use by state and local governments – including roughly $8.7 billion for North Carolina – while providing additional funding for vaccine distribution, school reopening, business support, COVID-19 testing, unemployment benefit extensions, and direct stimulus payments to individuals and families.
Among the vast array of measures, the package contains:
- Direct payments up to $1,400 for individuals earning less than $80,000 a year and up to $2,800 for families earning less than $160,000, with individuals earning less than $75,000 and families earning less than $150,000 eligible for the full payment (families will also be eligible for an additional $1,400 per dependent, including adult dependents)
- Renewal of weekly $300 federal emergency unemployment payments through Sept. 6, providing supplementary relief for individuals in state unemployment insurance (UI) systems
- Extensions through Sept. 6 for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides UI relief for freelancers and independent contractors, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which extends the duration of payments for some individuals in traditional state UI systems
- Funding through September to pay the full costs of health insurance premiums for individuals covered by the COBRA program, which enables those facing job loss or other unexpected life events to temporarily retain group health benefits
- $7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – which is currently accepting second-round loans – and expanded PPP-eligibility for many non-profit organizations
- $25 billion in grant funding for bars and restaurants, with businesses eligible to receive up to $10 million for use on a wide variety of expenses
- $15 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which enables small businesses to apply for long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration, with the hardest hit businesses and those with fewer than 10 employees eligible for priority funding
- $175 million to establish and operate a Community Navigator Program to identify eligible businesses most in need of relief
The substantial funds this act provides to state and local leaders in North Carolina will no doubt influence policy discussions throughout the 2021 legislative session. As the NC Chamber works through the bill to analyze its full impacts on job creators, our advocacy team remains focused on advancing a legislative agenda that empowers you to protect lives and livelihoods while embracing new opportunities for recovery and growth in the year ahead. We look forward to sharing more with you in future updates.