Stimulus Update: Healthy Labor Market Makes Fourth Stimulus Check Less Likely

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  • Many Americans are still hoping for a fourth stimulus check.
  • A strong jobs market makes that a less likely scenario for 2022.

Despite inflation, the economy is quite healthy. That makes the chances of a follow-up stimulus check pretty slim.

When the last round of stimulus checks went out about a year ago, the U.S. economy was in a very different place than it is today. Then again, the country was in a different place.

Just 12 months ago, those looking to get vaccinated against COVID-19 were clamoring to get a jab, and many students were still attending school from their living rooms versus an actual classroom. Meanwhile, unemployment was still high, and many people faced challenges on the road to getting back into the labor force.

To be clear, many people are still facing similar challenges given the escalating cost of childcare and also, limited childcare availability in the wake of the pandemic. But from an economic standpoint, the U.S. has made great strides since the American Rescue Plan was signed into law in March of 2021. And while that's obviously a good thing, it also means it may be time to write off a fourth stimulus check -- at least for the current year.

Unemployment is still low

Americans' ability to get a job tied heavily into the decision to send out stimulus checks in March of 2021. But these days, there are millions of jobs to be had, and unemployment is relatively low -- at its lowest point since the start of the pandemic.

In fact, for the week ended March 5, initial jobless claims came to just 227,000. That's not the lowest number we've seen in recent months, but it's nowhere close to the numbers we were seeing when unemployment was at its highest.

Furthermore, while inflation may be wreaking havoc on a lot of people's finances, higher prices can actually be indicative of a strong economy, not a weakened one. When demand for consumer goods exceeds the available supply, prices can rise. That's what's been happening in recent months, and while that's made things difficult for many people, it's also not necessarily a reason to dish out more aid in the form of stimulus checks.

Coping without a stimulus check

At this point, Americans should not expect a stimulus check to hit their bank accounts in 2022. That doesn't mean they won't be in line for other aid, though. If lawmakers manage to find a way to extend the boosted Child Tax Credit, parents of children will at least be in line for added relief.

But if that boost doesn't come through, and neither does a stimulus check, some households may be forced to make some difficult choices, like cutting back on certain spending categories, downsizing their homes, or getting by without a vehicle. The silver lining, though, is that there are many jobs available these days, and employers are growing increasingly flexible in an effort to secure and maintain staff. That means remote work may be more of a possibility now than it was a year ago, and that alone might help more people get back into the labor force.

Furthermore, there are many opportunities for workers to take on side jobs on top of their main jobs. That's not an ideal solution by any means, but it is a good way to drum up extra income in the absence of a much-wanted stimulus check.

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