Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy would see growth of nearly 4% and save more than 5 million jobs next year If federal lawmakers would continue emergency COVID-19 programs, according to an analysis by a non-profit think tank Thursday.
The study by the Economic Policy Institute says retaining unemployment insurance programs set to expire this month and reviving enhanced federal unemployment payments -- an extra $600 per week -- would spur the projected growth in 2021.
"If these programs -- including the extra $600 -- are reinstated and extended through 2021, and if the virus is brought under control so that economic growth for 2021 returns to being simply a function of aggregate demand growth, the economy would be boosted by 3.5% and 5.1 million more jobs would be added," authors Elise Gould and Josh Bivens wrote in the report, released Wednesday.
Tens of millions of U.S. workers lost their jobs in the early months of the pandemic before a partial rebound in the early summer. As new outbreaks later began to rise nationwide, states and cities reimposed restrictions or added new orders to clamp down on the spread.
The United States is presently in its most severe period of the pandemic. More than 200,000 cases were added and a record 3,000 patients died nationwide on Wednesday -- and the EPI analysis acknowledges that the domestic economy is still "years away from a full recovery."
For the study, researchers examined the impact of three programs established by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March that are set to expire within weeks -- the Unemployment Assistance program, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and the Unemployment Compensation payments program.
"If the effective safety net functions provided by these programs were maintained through 2021, millions of workers would be better able to avoid economic catastrophe while out of work due to the pandemic," the authors wrote.
Some 12 million workers will be affected when the UA and EUC programs expire on Dec. 26, Gould and Bivens noted, and 4.4 million others in the programs have already seen their benefits expire.
The Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday that another 700,000 U.S. workers filed new unemployment claims last week. The level is lower than it was in the early months of the pandemic, but remains three times higher than their pre-pandemic average.
The department will release its November jobs report on Friday.