Fourth dunning check to date: what is behind the surge in recurring payments?

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The IRS issued more than 169 million payments during the third round of direct stimulus aid, with more than 2 million people in July receiving checks for $ 1,400. But some lawmakers are pushing for a fourth round of stimulus aid that would effectively send recurring payments until the pandemic is over.

So far, the federal response to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has paid eligible adults $ 3,200: $ 1,200 under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act in March 2020; $ 600 in a December relief measure; and $ 1,400 as part of the US bailout package signed in March by President Joe Biden.

Despite this financial assistance, millions of Americans remain in financial difficulty, and the spread of the Delta variant is creating new economic headwinds. Nearly a quarter of Americans struggled to pay for their household expenses in the past week, according to new data from a census survey that asked people in the last two weeks of August.

Unemployment rate amounts to 5.2%, still above its pre-pandemic level of 3.5%. And while companies hire, there are still about 5.3 million fewer people on payrolls today than before the pandemic. Economists are worried about the spread of the Delta variant, with Oxford Economics recently lowering its forecast for global economic growth in 2021 to 5.9% from 6.4%.

“Uncertainty and reluctance may ultimately lead to a slower recovery from here than our baseline assumes,” Ben May, director of global macro research at Oxford Economics, wrote in the report.

At the same time, 9.1 million people lost improved unemployment benefits on Labor Day, when federal benefits expire. It will wipe out about $ 5 billion in weekly benefits paid to the unemployed – assistance that had helped these workers pay for groceries, rent and other basic necessities.

For many people, in short, the last round of $ 1,400 checks are long gone even as other pandemic stimulus measures come to an end – a problem that is on the verge of coming. the minds of many Americans who continue to struggle against unemployment and a weak labor market. In fact, more than 2.8 million people have signed a Change.org petition launched last year that calls on lawmakers to pass legislation for monthly recurring payments of $ 2,000.

Some lawmakers have taken up the idea. Twenty-one senators – all Democrats – signed a March 30 letter to Mr. Biden supporting recurring stimulus payments, stressing that the $ 1,400 payment distributed by the IRS would not hold people back for long.

“Almost 6 in 10 people say the payments of $ 1,400 that are to be included in the bailout will last them less than three months,” the senators wrote in the letter.


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Meanwhile, some states are create their own form of dunning checks. About two-thirds of California residents are likely to qualify for a “Golden State Stimulus” check through a new effort from Gov. Gavin Newsom. This effort will provide $ 600 to low- and middle-income residents who have filed their 2020 income tax returns. Florida and parts of Texas have authorized teacher bonuses to help offset the impact of the pandemic.

Letter from US Senators does not specify the amount of payments they seek, but a separate effort from Democratic lawmakers in January pushed for $ 2,000 in monthly checks until the end of the pandemic. Instead, the American Rescue Plan authorized $ 1,400 for each eligible adult and dependent.

Child tax credit: July 15 installments

Some families received another form of stimulus assistance on July 15 when the IRS deposited the first of six monthly cash payments on the bank accounts of parents eligible for the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Families received an average of $ 423 in their first CTC payment, according to an analysis of census data from the left-wing advocacy group Economic Security Project.

Qualifying families will receive up to $ 1,800 in cash until December, with the money split evenly over the six months from July to December. The aid is due to the expanded CTC, which is part of President Joe Biden’s US bailout.

Eligible families will receive $ 300 per month for each child under 6 and $ 250 for children 6 to 17. Several families who spoke to CBS MoneyWatch said the extra money would go towards child care, back-to-school supplies and other essentials.

Families could benefit from more tax relief in the years to come, if Mr Biden American Family Plan Go ahead. As part of the plan, the expansion of the child tax credit would last until 2025, giving families four more years of greater tax relief for children.

Emergency fund, savings

So far, people who have received all three rounds of stimulus payments have said they use most of the funds to pay down debt or save money, according to a recent analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. . This could indicate that people are using the money to reduce debts they incurred during the pandemic as well as to build an emergency fund in the event of another shock.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans who have received, or thought they will receive soon, a third payment said it was important to their finances in the short term, Bankrate.com said in April. This is down from around 8 in 10 people in March 2020, when the pandemic caused widespread unemployment, but overall the share of people in need of extra support remains high over a year longer. late, according to the personal finance company.

About 1 in 3 people said stimulus aid would help them support them for less than a month, according to the survey.

Millions of Americans have been spared the three rounds of stimulus payments, researchers have found. But when the stimulus faltered, as last fall when Congress stalled on another round of aid, the difficulties increased “noticeably” in November and December, according to a May analysis of census data. from the University of Michigan.

Still living paycheck to paycheck

Some leading economists have called for more direct aid to Americans. More than 150 economists, including former Obama administration economist Jason Furman, signed a letter last year advocating “recurring direct stimulus payments, until the economy recovers.”

Although the economy is improving, millions of people continue to suffer from reduced incomes and have not been able to benefit from government assistance programs, Nasif said. According to a March study by economist Eliza Forsythe, only 4 in 10 unemployed people actually received unemployment assistance.


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Many people never applied for unemployment benefits because they thought they were not entitled to it, while others may have given up due to long waits and other issues.

“You’ll see reports of how the economy is starting to grow, but there are a lot of Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck, and for many of them, government assistance programs. were unable to help, “said Greg Nasif, political director of Humanity Forward.

What is the probability of a fourth raise check?

Don’t hold your breath, according to Wall Street analysts. “I think that’s unlikely at the moment,” Raymond James analyst Ed Mills told CNBC. One reason is that the Biden administration is focused on advancing its infrastructure plan, which would reshape the economy by rebuilding aging schools, roads and airports, as well as investing in projects ranging from affordable housing to broadband.

The proposal, which the White House says would be funded by raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, will likely consume lawmakers this fall, Stifel’s Brian Gardner said in an Aug.11 research note.

“The fall is shaping up to be a busy time in Washington as Congress attempts to complete two infrastructure bills (one that includes tax hikes), approve annual spending bills and raise the debt ceiling, “he noted.

Delta headwinds?

At the same time, the economic rebound faces headwinds as the Delta variant spreads across the country. Some states with low immunization rates are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases that could deter people from accepting service jobs in restaurants and other jobs involving public exposure.

Texas’ failure to stem the COVID-19 outbreak in its state has led to nearly 72,000 job cuts and an annualized drop in production of more than $ 13 billion, according to a recent study. Fear of contracting COVID-19 is also leading to job losses in Texas, as workers choose to stay home or have to stay home to care for family members with the disease, noted the study.

Meanwhile, federal pandemic unemployment benefits expired on September 6, marking the end of innovative programs that had extended unemployment assistance to gig workers, part-time workers and others who didn’t. are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits. This could increase the hardship for many households, experts say.

“This cliff threatens the progress in economic recovery we have made by draining the economy from consumer spending, and will put millions of workers at risk of enduring hardship,” said Andrew Stettner, senior associate of the Century Foundation, in a statement.


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