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Survey: U.S. support for government safety nets increased amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Oct. 15 (UPI) — Support for government playing an active role in society increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey released Thursday.

The survey conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and published online by the American Journal of Public Health found that 34% of Americans supported increased government social safety nets in April 2020, up from 24% in September 2019.

“As Congress debates continued relief for Americans suffering health and economic consequences from the pandemic, our data shows there is growing support for passing the kind of policies that have been unable to pass in the last few months,” co-author Hahrie Han, director of the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University wrote.

The survey found that Americans strongly supported seven of 11 social safety net policies including 88% support for two-weeks paid sick leave, 80% approval of an increased federal wage, 77% support for employment education and training as unemployment benefits and 73% responding positively to universal health insurance.

Respondents were less supportive of other policies, with 48% supporting government-funded family leave and 47% supporting single-payer health insurance with government-funded paid sick leave and universal basic income both receiving 39% support.

The release of the data comes as Congress has struggled to pass an additional round of economic stimulus in response to COVID-19 after passing the now-expired CARES Act in March, which included a one-time $1,200 stimulus check, loans for small businesses and expanded unemployment payments.

“Critical safety net policies passed in the initial phase of the pandemic are expiring or have expired and finding common ground on extending them has proved difficult,” said the study’s lead author, Colleen L. Barry, chair of the Department of Health and Policy Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “An Awareness on the part of policymakers of heightened support for the government aiding individuals and families who have experienced pandemic-related dislocations could make a difference.”

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