More than 42 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, shattering previous unemployment records. Millions of those who were laid off or furloughed have been pinching pennies just to get by, even with help from the economic stimulus check many received under the CARES Act.
Although millions of Americans are still unemployed and in need of a second stimulus check, nobody knows yet whether another stimulus bill will pass through Congress. However, there are two good signs another check may be on the way -- and one sign it may not.
Good sign No. 1: The HEROES Act passed the House
The HEROES Act -- the proposed sequel to the CARES Act -- recently passed in the House of Representatives and is currently in the Senate's hands.
Under the HEROES Act, those who received the first stimulus check will likely receive another one of up to $1,200 (or $2,400 for married couples), plus an additional $1,200 for each dependent for up to three dependents. The new stimulus bill would also provide checks to some of those who were left out under the CARES Act, specifically dependent children ages 17 and older and those married to someone without a Social Security number.
The HEROES Act is unlikely to pass as written in the Senate, but the fact that the bill has gained enough traction in Congress to pass in the House is a good sign that a second stimulus check is still a possibility.
Good sign No. 2: The Senate is drafting its own stimulus bill
The Senate may be reluctant to pass the HEROES Act, namely because it's expensive. The CARES Act cost approximately $2 trillion, while the HEROES Act will cost a proposed $3 trillion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that a second stimulus bill cannot exceed $1 trillion, so the House's bill is likely already dead on arrival.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean a second stimulus check is off the table. The Senate is currently drafting its own bill, which could include more stimulus money. Negotiations are still in the early phase, and the second stimulus package likely won't be revealed until July or August. Anything could happen by that time, so don't write off a second stimulus check just yet.
The not-so-good sign for stimulus checks: The unemployment rate is dropping
The unemployment rate dropped to 13.3% in May, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from 14.7% in April. As many cities across the country start to reopen and more Americans go back to work, the economy is starting to strengthen.
While this is good news in general, it's not so good for the prospect of another stimulus check. With fewer people out of work, Congress has less of an incentive to approve another round of checks.
The stock market has also experienced an incredible comeback recently, with the S&P 500 recovering its coronavirus-related losses and turning positive for the year. While nobody knows how long this rebound will last, Congress could consider it evidence that Americans don't need another stimulus check right now.
Is a second stimulus check on the way?
It's uncertain whether a second stimulus bill will pass. If the economy continues to recover and COVID-19 is contained, another round of checks is unlikely. However, things could change over the next month or two, so more stimulus money isn't out of the question. If we've learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it's that anything could happen.