The $600 federal unemployment benefit, which comes to an end this week while Congress struggles with a potential replacement, has become a lifeline in that it serves as 15% of the nation's overall wages and has stimulated pockets of spending in a flat economy. Low-income households have injected money into the economy by spending more than they would have - a behavior that experts say shows how many have been living paycheck to paycheck, and calling into question the idea that wealth distribution needs to be examined. Meanwhile, those who have remained employed have cut back their spending. The concept of a universal basic income was introduced by a Democratic presidential candidate last year who proposed that $1000 be given to workers who had lost their jobs to automation, in order to lift poverty and stagnant wages while providing stimulus to the economy. The pandemic made that proposal a reality when the government was forced to mail stimulus checks, while adding extra benefits to the unemployed. Many are heavily reliant on this extra income but it has caused inequities in that many of the unemployed are making more than those who still work.