Stimulus Check Update: October's Dropping Jobless Rate Makes Fourth Check Even Less Likely

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  • October's jobless rate fell to a pandemic-era low.
  • Job creation soared as well, making the likelihood of a fourth stimulus check slim.

An improving economy is good news on the whole but bad news for stimulus checks.

For weeks, new jobless claims have been falling steadily, so economists were expecting good news from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' October jobs report. And that data didn't disappoint.

In October, the national unemployment rate fell to 4.6%. That's down from 4.8% in September, and it also represents a pandemic-era low.

Just as importantly, job growth exceeded economists' expectations. There were 531,000 new jobs added in October -- well beyond the 450,000 analysts anticipated.

Just as significantly, long-term unemployment (defined as being out of work for six months or more) fell by 357,000 in October. And while there were still about 1.2 million more people unemployed on a long-term basis in October compared to right before the pandemic, to see that number drop is a positive thing.

But while October's jobs report is something worth celebrating, there's one potential downside. In light of these improvements, it's now even less likely that Americans will see a fourth stimulus check hit their bank accounts anytime soon.

To be clear, even before October's jobs data was released, the general consensus was that a fourth stimulus check wasn't happening, at least not in the near term. But now, it's fair to say that Americans can write off the idea for 2021, and probably for the start of 2022 (unless, of course, things take a devastating turn for the worse over the next bunch of weeks).

Still, that doesn't mean Americans are totally out of luck. In fact, there are other sources of cash that may still be coming some people's way.

Will you get another bonus payday in 2021?

While another stimulus check is unlikely this year, parents can still look forward to two separate windfalls in November and December. That's when the final two monthly installments of the boosted Child Tax Credit will be paid. Furthermore, come 2022, parents who have been getting installment payments will also be eligible to collect the remaining 50% of the boosted credit.

Better yet, lawmakers are planning to extend the boosted Child Tax Credit into 2022. Parents with children under the age of 6 could therefore be eligible for up to $3,600 from the credit next year, which is $1,600 more than it's normally worth. Meanwhile, parents with kids between the ages of 6 and 17 could be in line for a $3,000 payday, which is $1,000 more than what the Child Tax Credit normally maxes out at.

Just as importantly, lawmakers are fighting to make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable once it reverts back to its lower value. That means that those who have no tax liability will still be eligible to receive the value of the credit in full. Prior to 2021, only a portion of the Child Tax Credit was refundable.

The idea of not getting another stimulus check may be disappointing to many. But it's important to focus on the big picture -- that the economy is slowly but surely improving. And that alone could help many people attain financial security more so than another direct payment.

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