The federal aid to unemployed workers that President Trump announced last weekend looks likely to be smaller than initially suggested — and it remains unclear when the money will start flowing, how long it will last or how many workers will benefit.
Mr. Trump said Saturday that he was taking executive action to provide unemployed workers with $400 a week in extra payments, with states picking up one-quarter of the cost. He did so after talks on a new round of pandemic relief stalled in Congress.
States are scrambling to figure out how to carry out the plan. Here’s what we know so far:
The benefit will be $300 for most workers, not $400. Rather than adding $100 a week on top of existing unemployment benefits, states can count existing benefits toward their share.
It could take weeks for the money to start flowing. States will need to adjust their processing systems to the new provisions when they are already overwhelmed by unemployment filings.
The money won’t last long. Mr. Trump’s executive action caps spending on the program at $44 billion, enough to cover five or six weeks of benefits, assuming all states sign up.
Workers are left in limbo. For unemployed workers, the uncertainty hangs over mounting credit card debts and looming rent payments. And those who collect less than $100 a week in state jobless benefits do not qualify for the new supplement.
The U.S. retail sales figures for July will be released on Friday morning by the Commerce Department. After months of precipitous drops, the numbers bounced back the past two months and analysts are predicting that sales rose again, though not at the rate they did in May or June.
With the coronavirus still keeping some stores closed and many people home around the country, online sales have been a driving force. Some of the recovery has been helped by the $600 a week in unemployment assistance, which expired at the end of July. If Congress fails to extend the emergency benefit, it could derail the retail rebound in coming months.
And there are certain sectors of the industry that may never truly return until a vaccine is approved and widely distributed, allowing people to shop and dine indoors again without fear.
Foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores selling primarily discretionary goods, including apparel retailers, remains down by as much as 43 percent from last year, according to Morgan Stanley’s research.
European shares slumped on Friday, as new quarantine rules for people arriving in Britain raised fresh worries about efforts to control the pandemic.
The Euro Stoxx 600 benchmark index was 1.7 percent lower in late morning trading. Earlier in Asia, Chinese indexes had a good day, propelled by some positive economic data. On Wall Street, futures pointed to a lower open later in the day.
Oil futures were trading about 1 percent lower, and U.S. 10-year Treasuries were rising in price as investors looked for a safe haven.
Britain on Friday announced that people arriving from France, the Netherlands and Malta would need to self-isolate for 14 days, following a rise in coronavirus cases in those countries. The new rules threw a wrench into many vacation plans, and called into doubt efforts to relax lockdowns. Travel businesses felt an immediate impact, including airlines (EasyJet shares fell 7 percent, and the parent company of British Airways fell more than 6 percent) and tour operators (TUI tumbled more than 5 percent).
Underscoring the concerns, France on Friday declared Paris and the Marseille region to be high-risk zones, granting local authorities powers to impose new restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.
In the United States, investors were awaiting data on retail sales for July. Consumer spending is a primary driver in the American economy, and it was flattened earlier in the spring. Spending was revived in May and June as businesses reopened, and the July figures are expected to show another increase, although the rise expected to be less robust because some states and cities tightened shutdown rules again as the virus flared.
In China, economic data showed industrial output rose nearly 5 percent in July from a year earlier, while retail sales slumped 1.1 percent over the same period. It was a further sign that while China’s factories are humming, its residents are holding back from making purchases.