Europe cushions workforce as U.S. lifeline runs threadbare

Author: Tom Sims, Norma Galeana
Source: Routers
Date: AUGUST 3, 2020

FRANKFURT/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - - While millions of U.S. workers thrown into unemployment by the coronavirus pandemic fret about feeding their families, idled German airline purser Marco Todte is mainly concerned about his next vacation.
Todte, 41, hasn’t flown for work since April. But Germany’s state-subsidized “Kurzarbeit” furlough scheme and a top-up from employer Lufthansa means he is getting 90% of his regular income and has the cash to explore what few leisure options there are in an economy still emerging from lockdown.
“It is hard to go to the cinema or to go out in the evenings. I had planned on a cruise but that was cancelled,” Todte complained. “It’s not a question of money - more a question of what there is to do with it.”
That’s a problem that Juan Ruiz, a 56-year-old billing agent who lost his job at a Los Angeles forklift company in March when he contracted COVID-19, would love to have.
The failure of Congress to agree on replacing the $600-a-week extra unemployment benefit before its expiry on Friday means his family’s finances are now in jeopardy.
Ruiz used his first benefit cheques to pay down his debts but still has a mortgage to cover and says the new proposal of just $200-a-week on the table when talks resume on Monday is nowhere near enough.
“We have a lot of bills, we need to pay the house, taxes, everything,” Ruiz, still struggling with his breathing as a result of the disease, told Reuters at his home.