Stimulus Check Update: Does Rising Jobless Rate Make the Case for a Fourth Stimulus Check?

by Maurie Backman | Published on July 7, 2021

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A line of people standing in front of a building labeled Job Center.

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Will there be another stimulus round? Here's how the latest jobs data could play a role in that decision.

For the past number of months, many Americans have managed to take advantage of the $1,400 stimulus checks that the IRS has been sending out since March. That extra money has allowed many people to pad their savings, shop more, or book summer vacations after a year of being stuck at home.

But will that $1,400 stimulus be the last one Americans get in the course of the pandemic? There's reason to believe it might be.

The U.S. economy is in much better shape now than it was months ago, when stimulus checks started hitting people's bank accounts. And things have improved with regard to the pandemic itself with vaccines being so widely available.

Still, June's jobs report contained some surprising information. But does the most recent data make a strong enough case for another stimulus round?

Unemployment is actually up

We keep hearing about how the U.S. economy is on its way to a full-fledged recovery. But in June, the national unemployment rate actually rose from 5.8% to 5.9%.

That said, the news wasn't all negative. The economy did manage to add 850,000 new jobs, which was more than the 706,000 jobs economists thought would get added. But still, economists also expected the jobless rate to fall to 5.6%, so the fact that it went up is somewhat discouraging.

But is that uptick enough to make the case for a fourth stimulus check? That's questionable.

Despite an increase in the unemployment rate, many states are experiencing their share of labor shortages, so much so that 26 states have already made the decision to put an end to boosted unemployment benefits ahead of schedule. Originally, jobless workers were supposed to continue collecting an extra $300 a week through early September, but at this point, only 24 states are sticking to that plan.

Of course, it's clear that Americans want a fourth stimulus check -- so much so that 2.5 million people have already signed a petition imploring the government to send one out. But while many Americans may still be experiencing personal financial hardships stemming from the pandemic, on a whole, the U.S. economy is in a stronger place now than it was a few months ago. And things have certainly improved tremendously since the start of the pandemic, when millions of jobs were being shed on a weekly basis and the national unemployment rate reached an all-time high.

Now if the jobless rate does somehow continue to move upward, then it'll be easier to make the argument for a fourth stimulus check. But that's also not the sort of thing the public should wish for. The reality is that a strong, healthy economy can benefit everyone more so than another government payday, especially since a fourth stimulus check wouldn't necessarily be as generous as the most recent $1,400 round.

Furthermore, starting next week, families who are eligible for the newly expanded Child Tax Credit should start seeing monthly payments land in their bank accounts. And while that's clearly not the same thing as an actual stimulus check, it's a windfall nonetheless.

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