Perry County, Ky. In, the local government is cutting back on garbage pickup. Magoffin County is laying off public safety workers. And in Floyd County, where food pantries are reporting that demand has tripled in the past month, officials are trying to figure out how to avoid cuts to the program that distributes food to families.
“Many of these children, this is the only meal they get in a day,” said Floyd County judge-executive, Chief Elected Officer Robert Williams. “I can’t ask a child to sit at the computer all day with nothing to eat.”
In cases and deaths, Kentucky has not been hit as hard as coronoviruses by some other states. Like most of the country, it has experienced this decline, but is less severe than in neighboring Tennessee. Kentucky’s economy is doing all the same, especially in the already struggling rural areas.
“We were in dire need of financial help to begin with Kovid,” Magoffin County Judge-Executive Matthew C. Wireman said, an Appalachian county where the unemployment rate in October was 16.7 percent, one of the highest in the country.
The relief package passed by Congress this month and signed by President Trump on Sunday should provide aid. Paying individuals $ 600, criticized by the president and many progressives as many younger people, would go a long way where the typical household earns less than $ 40,000 per year. So there will be a $ 300 weekly supplement for unemployment benefits. And the bill includes provisions to help rural areas, including subsidies for broadband infrastructure and assistance for small farmers.
But this aid was given by one of Kentucky’s Republican senators, Rand Paul, who was one of just six to vote against the package in the Senate, on the basis that it was on the amount to hand it over. “free money. “And this may be smaller and later than otherwise due to the work of another state senator, Mitch McConnell, who fought to limit the package as majority leader.
Mr. McConnell specifically worked to exclude broad-based aid to state and local governments – help that many local officials in his state say they desperately need.
However, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell said, the legalists were not a hindrance and helped lead the epidemic to the federal-dollar response.
McConnell said in a statement Sunday evening, “The settlement bill is not perfect, but it will work very well for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country.”
Mr. Paul’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
The unemployment rate in some rural counties is in the double digits. Hunger and poverty rates have risen before the crisis. Kentucky has lost more than 20,000 state and local government jobs since February, and according to the budget due to declining tax receipts, officials will have to choose between raising taxes and cutting services.
“It is disappointing that our own senators will not support local governments,” the Democrat said. “These are extraordinary times, and we need to take extraordinary measures at the national level from our federal government to help people.”
Like many rural areas around the country, Magoffin County relies heavily on the public sector. State and local government jobs account for about one-third of all employment in the county, one-eighth of all jobs nationally. Elliott County, two counties to the north, is even more reliable: About two-thirds of all jobs are government work, including more than 200 in state jails.
“In many rural communities, state and local government are major employers,” said Janet Harrah, executive director of outreach at the Northern Kentucky University Business School.
State and local governments also offer “good jobs” – with stable, relatively well-paid, profits – where factories and coal mines once played that role. More job cuts, Ms. Harrah said, would slow recovery.
Kentucky’s economy has a pocket of strength. Statewide, the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in November, better than the national rate of 6.7 percent. The state’s central location has helped it become a logistics hub for UPS, DHL and Amazon, which thrived during the epidemic boom in online shopping. Toyota and Ford have factories in Kentucky; They closed early in the epidemic, but headed back to life to meet the growing demand.
However, across the country, the epidemic has further widened the divide between rich and poor regions.
Louisville, the state’s largest city and economic engine, suffers from the loss of tourism and recreation, but epidemic-hit industries, like health care and professional services, have helped sustain its economy. This is not true in many rural areas, where there may be only a few major employers.
“In urban areas, if people start spending money again, the fact of the matter is that there will be other companies that will be born to replace those people, which Ms. Harra said.” In rural areas, “jobs once lost will be very difficult to replace.”
Daryl Royce is trying to picket. He is the co-owner of Heritage Kitchen, a casual dining restaurant on Main Street in Whitsburg, a small town near the Virginia border.
Mr. Royce’s business survived the first wave of epidemics with loans from the federal paycheck protection program and small grants from local groups. But that aid is gone, and the epidemic is again harming his business.
Economic Relief Package, which President Trump signed on Sunday night, Will issue a $ 600 payment and distribute federal unemployment benefits of $ 300 for at least 10 weeks. Find out more about the plan what’s in it for you. For detailed information on how to get help, visit our Hub for help.
- Will I receive another incentive payment? With individual adults adjusted gross income Their 2019 returns will receive a $ 600 payment on returns of up to $ 75,000 a year, and $ 112,500 at the head of the household and a couple (or whose spouse died in 2020) with earnings up to $ 150,000 a year. Will be doubled. If they have dependent children, they will also receive $ 600 for each child. People with incomes above these levels will receive a partial payment that declines by $ 5 for every $ 100 in income.
- When can my payment arrive? Treasury Secretary Steven Menuchin told CNBC that he expected the first payment before the end of the year. But it will be some time before all the eligible people get their money.
- Does the agreement affect unemployment insurance? The lawmakers agreed to expand the amount of time that people can collect unemployment benefits and resume an additional federal benefit that is provided on top of the usual general benefit. But instead of $ 600 per week, it would be $ 300. It will run till 14 March.
- I am behind my rent or hope to be soon. Can I get any relief? The agreement will provide $ 25 billion to be distributed through state and local governments to help renters who are left behind. To get help, families have to meet many Conditions: Household income (for 2020) cannot exceed 80 percent of the region’s average income; At least one household member must be homeless or at risk of housing instability; And individuals must qualify for unemployment benefits or face financial hardship – directly or indirectly – due to the epidemic. The agreement states that assistance will be given priority for low-income families and those who have been unemployed for three months or more.
Last month, Gov. Andy Beshear shut down indoor food in the state in response to an increase in virus cases. He withdrew the order this month, but Mr. Royce’s business did not grow back. He has not filled more than three tables after reopening them once. Without federal help, he said, making it through the winter can be a struggle.
“Royton said there is a kind of connection between people going to Washington and those represented in very small communities, especially in rural areas.” “We really need help.”
Communities such as Whitsburg had long struggled before the epidemic. Coal mines that power Eastern Kentucky’s economy have been in decline for decades, and despite federal and regional revitalization efforts, the region suffers from chronic health conditions, low education levels, and high rates of widespread poverty.
The economic expansion following the Great Recession failed to lift many poor rural communities, and the epidemic has made much progress that persisted.
Olugenba Ajilore, an economist at the Center for American Progress, said, “What Kovid did is pushed him further back. It has studied the impact of the epidemic on rural America.” Many factors contributed to the region’s pre-pandemic conflicts – inadequate digital infrastructure, lack of healthcare, – making the region particularly vulnerable, he said.
In addition, high rates of poverty meant that many families went into epidemics with few resources for the hurricane season. Jason Bailey, executive director of the liberal group Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said many of them have already suffered permanent financial damage during months of delays for aid.
“It’s no different than anywhere else, except we were going into it with so many people who were somehow, without any savings, without any buffer,” he said.
The epidemic has cut in half the income of Alicia Hardwick, a hairstylist near Pikeville, an hour north of Whitsburg. She was eligible for partial unemployment benefits, about $ 90 every two weeks, but payments stopped in early October, and she was unable to contact anyone from the state’s unemployment office to resolve the issue.
Ms. Hardwick tried to make masks to earn money on the side, but it was never too much. Her husband made some marketing videos on a freelance basis for a little extra cash, with more success. But this is not enough – as the couple feels they are being caught, another bill is owed, and the cycle continues.
“So we have the flat broken again, and got to make more money to go to work and put it away,” Ms. Hardwick said. “It’s the younger people who are suffering right now, and the rich are getting richer.”
She said that she was confused with the federal government even before the epidemic. This year’s events have reinforced that sentiment, she said, proving that people in Washington are unable or unwilling to represent the people who represent them.
“I didn’t believe the government before that because we know that they keep things from us, but now it’s almost as evil as the government,” Ms Zhang said. “It’s really this house that I was right for not completely trusting them – never, never, never.”
Patricia Cohen contributed reporting.