Stimulus Check Update: How the New Unemployment Data Might Affect the Push for a Fourth Direct Payment

by Angelica Leicht | Published on June 25, 2021

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Hoping for another stimulus check? The new unemployment data is out, and the numbers could make it tough for lawmakers to push a fourth direct payment forward.

The IRS has been sending out payments for the third round of stimulus checks since March, and believe it or not, they're not quite done with the process yet. Last week, the agency mailed out and deposited yet another batch of checks into bank accounts across the nation. This round included an estimated 2.3 million payments, and the federal agency will continue to push out stimulus and plus-up payments over the next few months.

But while the status of the third round of stimulus payments is clear, there are still questions about whether a fourth direct payment will happen. Dozens of lawmakers have been pushing for another round of checks to be sent out to Americans who qualify, but so far, nothing has come of it. There are no proposals in the works from President Joe Biden, and there don't appear to be any on the horizon, either.

And, now that the May unemployment data has been released, it could get even tougher for lawmakers to push forward a proposal for a fourth stimulus check. Here's what the May unemployment data shows -- and how this new data could affect the push for a fourth stimulus check.

How unemployment could affect the push for a fourth check

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest batch of state employment numbers earlier this week. While the data shows positive trends in employment, the report may not be good news for anyone hoping for a fourth stimulus check.

In total, 21 states had lower unemployment rates in May, as did the District of Columbia. Unemployment remained stable in 28 states, according to the report, and only one state saw an uptick in the unemployment rate for May.

A drop in unemployment rates is typically a signal of a recovering economy.

And, there's more good news on the job front. According to the report, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had jobless rate decreases when compared to the jobless rates in May 2020 -- yet another sign that the economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per the report, the drop in national unemployment was significant. The national unemployment rate declined by about 0.3 of a percentage point compared to the month prior, and by about 7.5% when compared to May 2020.

The May jobs report that was issued earlier this month also showed signs that the nation is starting to recover from the pandemic. According to the jobs report, nearly 560,000 new jobs were added to the U.S. economy during the month of May.

Given the addition of new jobs and the drop in unemployment overall, it seems less and less likely that a fourth stimulus check will happen. At least not in the near future, anyway.

The lawmaker push for a fourth stimulus check

That said, there is still hope that a fourth check could come to fruition. Dozens of lawmakers have pushed for another round of stimulus money in recent months, and the support continues to grow.

As of late June, over 80 lawmakers had sent letters requesting that the president approve a fourth stimulus check. And some lawmakers are calling for recurring stimulus payments to be sent to every American.

There is also widespread support among Americans, with over 2 million calling for ongoing $2,000 monthly stimulus checks via a petition on Change.org. Whether or not this push by Democratic lawmakers and citizens is enough to prompt Biden to make stimulus checks a priority in the future remains to be seen.

Over two dozen Democratic lawmakers are also pushing for “automatic stabilizers" to be put into place for expanded unemployment and stimulus checks. These stabilizers would be based on certain economic triggers, like a rise in unemployment rates, and would allow direct financial support to be deployed again without the need for legislative action.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen commented on the push for automatic stabilizers earlier this month, noting that she's supportive of the idea.

"It's something I think we should analyze and discuss more. I'm broadly supportive of the idea of making it more automatic," Yellen said.

Yellen also noted that these stabilizers could be "based on movements in the economy quickly like the unemployment rate when it rises."

Plus, it appears based on the recent comments from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that Biden would be open to another round of stimulus payments for Americans who qualify.

Psaki was asked about whether Biden would support a fourth direct payment during a recent press conference. Her answer, while vague, was also positive.

"The president is certainly open to a range of ideas," Psaki said during a White House press conference held on June 3. "He's happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what's most important to the economy moving forward."

Whether or not any of these stimulus efforts will succeed in Congress remains to be seen.

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