Yellen Says Americans to Start Seeing Payments This Weekend

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Americans would begin receiving $1,400 relief payments in their bank accounts this weekend following enactment of the $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief bill.

“We’re working hard first to get the direct payments out,” Yellen said Thursday in an interview with NBC News. She also promised to rush aid for vaccination support.

Yellen Says Americans to Start Seeing Payments This Weekend

Her remarks came hours after President Joe Biden signed the bill into law triggering aid for households, businesses and state and local governments. Biden addressed the nation from the White House Thursday evening, marking the day a year ago when the Covid-19 virus began forcing Americans into isolation. The disease devastated the economy and eventually killed more than 500,000 people in the U.S.

The economy has started to show signs of recovery as vaccinations reached a pace exceeding 2 million a day. Biden on Thursday ordered states to make all adults eligible for doses by May 1.

Applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell by more than forecast last week to the lowest since early November, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. Still, there are 8.5 million fewer employed Americans compared with before the pandemic, many of whom have stopped looking for jobs and so no longer show up in unemployment statistics.

Yellen Says Americans to Start Seeing Payments This Weekend

“This is a package that addresses the pandemic and helps people get to the other side intact,” Yellen said. “We don’t want to have people be scarred by long spells of unemployment, being out of the labor market because children can’t go to school. We want to get the economy back, operating in a normal way.”

A separate report from the Federal Reserve on Thursday showed U.S. household net worth soared in the closing months of 2020 to a fresh record, driven by rising stock prices and residential real estate values. Hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus checks are likely to give Americans even more wherewithal to spend in coming weeks and months.

“I don’t believe we have overshot the mark” with the size of the relief bill, Yellen said. “I think this package is the right size.”

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