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Q&A: UVM economist Elaine McCrate on rebuilding after the crisis

Apr 6 2020, 8:40 PM

UVM economist Elaine McCrate says the crisis brought on by Covid-19 reveals “cracks and vulnerabilities” in the U.S. economy that could be repaired as the country recovers. “A lot of people are just at the edge in ways that may not have been true in…let’s say 1970,” McCrate said in a recent video interview. “The social safety nets have been kind of shredded.”

The U.S. economy is highly leveraged, McCrate said, so it can’t just be “paused” during an emergency. That’s left laid-off workers to largely depend on the unemployment insurance system, which in Vermont has seen nearly 50,000 claims in the past few weeks. To rebuild, McCrate says, the U.S. will need to better prepare its public health system for another outbreak. But it will also need to expand unemployment protections even further to ensure that workers can keep paying their bills.

—Mike Dougherty