WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday said he believes the U.S. economy will need more help to pull out of the recession, but added that the next round of support should be more targeted to the hardest hit parts of the economy.
Mnuchin, testifying before the Senate Small Business Committee, said the administration plans to spend the next 30 days looking at what measures should go in the next relief bill.
Congress has already approved close to $3 trillion in support to deal with the impact of the coronavirus, which has resulted in millions of layoffs and has pushed the country into recession.
“There is no question that small businesses in many industries will need more help,” Mnuchin said. “Small businesses and larger businesses are going to need more help.”
New support measures will need to encourage business owners to rehire workers, especially those in the hardest hit industries like restaurants and travel, he said.
“You can’t get hotel capacity up to speed without hiring people first,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza were generally praised by lawmakers for their efforts to get relief to small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program, which has so far processed 4.5 million loans worth $511 billion. The loans are forgivable if the business uses the money to keep employees on the payroll or rehire workers who have been laid off.
Congress passed legislation last week that allowed companies to use 60% of the money for payroll and 40% for other expenses, such as rent payments and utilities. That was a modification from an initial requirement that 75% of the funds be used for payroll. The legislation, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday, also extended the time for companies to use the loans from eight weeks to 24 weeks.