With the passing of the $2.2. trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security “CARES” Act, many businesses are able to get help keeping employees on their payroll. Some loans in the package are eligible for full forgiveness if businesses maintain full staffing.

“In the last three weeks we’ve had 16.8 million people file unemployment claims,” said Virginia Tech expert John Bovay. “It would be very, very disruptive to the economy if even more people lose their jobs over the coming weeks and are not able to cover their rent or mortgage. It would mean that their spending would go down and they’d need more aid in the form of SNAP, unemployment insurance benefits, et cetera.”

Bovay explains that these measures, while expensive and extreme, are necessary for the U.S. economy and society to experience a more rapid return to normalcy when the pandemic ends.

“What the CARES Act is trying to do is cushion the harm that has come from this disease and to make it possible for people to resume a relatively normal life after the pandemic is over,” said Bovay. “It allows business to retain their staff – even if their employees aren’t able to work and contribute to the company’s bottom line right now. It enables them to do this without disrupting their operations so that at least when this is over they won’t have to do a search and they won’t have to re-train.”

“It also allows employees to keep their health insurance, which would otherwise be a huge societal cost,” he said. “Additionally, businesses are closing and people’s investment portfolios have shrunk so much that it may not be easy to open new businesses again to replace the ones that have closed.”

“So doing what we can to make sure that employees either continue to be employed or receive very generous unemployment packages will enable us to resume a more normal pace of life when this is all over.”


John Bovay is an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His research expertise is in the economics of regulation, specifically involving the economic analysis of policies and regulations affecting farmers, consumers, and society as a whole, including implications for markets, the environment, and human health.

Schedule an interview

To secure an interview with John Bovay, contact Jillian Broadwell by email, or by phone at 540 231 9443.  

Our studio
Finding reliable experts for media interviews is especially important during this difficult time. Virginia Tech's television and radio studios can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news outlets, and affiliates interviewing Virginia Tech faculty and staff. The university does not charge for use of its studios. Video is transmitted by LTN Global Communications; Skype, FaceTime, or similar products; or file sharing (Dropbox, Google Drive, We-Transfer, etc.). Radio interviews can be transmitted by ISDN, Comrex, phone, smartphone recording, or file sharing.   

Written by Jillian Broadwell

Share this story