If you're hoping for another COVID-19 stimulus payment from the federal government, you aren't alone. The first check did little to help most families. Many have already spent it entirely on necessities, with nothing left over to see them through the 2020 recession.
Unfortunately, it's anyone's guess what lawmakers will do next. There are multiple competing proposals out there for more novel coronavirus payments. There are grounds to hope for another payment, but also reasonable doubts about whether one is forthcoming.
The good news is that there's a date when we'll have a better idea of the answer to the will-they-or-won't-they question: July 2.
Here's why July 2 matters
Thursday, July 2 is a make-or-break date for those hoping for more stimulus money because that's when the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the June jobs report. Normally, the report would be released on the first Friday of the month, but this one will come a day early because the Fourth of July holiday will be observed on July 3 this year.
The July 2 report will paint a picture of the labor market throughout the country. It will also provide an important follow-up to May's report, which showed a surprise drop in the unemployment rate. Most economists had predicted that more people would find themselves without work in May, but the rate actually fell from 14.7% to 13.3%.
The unexpected decline killed much of the momentum behind a second stimulus payment, with at least one senior White House official specifically citing the better-than-expected jobs numbers as a reason for shifting legislative priorities. A second check seemed like a foregone conclusion when economists were estimating another 8 million lost jobs over the course of the month. But now, lawmakers leery of spending more cash have latched onto the addition of 2.5 million jobs in March as a sign that no further payments are needed.
Still, one good jobs report wasn't enough to end discussions of a second bill entirely. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also warned that the unemployment numbers might have actually been higher than the report suggested due to problems with the way the data was collected. Unfortunately, the wording of some questions in the jobs survey may have resulted in the exclusion of some furloughed workers from the total unemployment count. The agency will take steps to correct the error.
With lingering questions about just how many people are actually out of the workforce for the long term, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle still appear open to the possibility of providing more COVID-19 relief funds.
However, another drop in the unemployment rate will likely be taken as a clear sign of economic recovery. If the report shows that there were improvements in June, the chances of cutting another check will be virtually nil.
Don't bank on more money from Uncle Sam
Of course, no one should hope that more people are out of work, even if that would mean more stimulus money. And even if things look bleak, there's no guarantee that Congress will provide a solution that gets more money into your pocket.
Instead of depending on the government to send you additional funds, start exploring other options for relief. If you haven't been forced to spend your stimulus check yet, and you don't need it for necessities, consider investing it to build your wealth.