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(CBS DFW) — A fourth stimulus check has been suggested, even as the third round of economic relief is still reaching eligible Americans. Around 159 million payments of up to $1,400 per person have been issued over the last few weeks. That’s most of the $422 billion allotted in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. Paper checks and EIP cards continue to arrive by mail.
These relief payments are part of a larger effort to cushion COVID’s economic impact on households and support the economy while the pandemic recovery continues. The stimulus package also extends unemployment benefits, strengthens the child tax credit, and much more. The recent round of checks follows the $1,200 CARES Act payments at the pandemic’s outset and the $600 payments in early January.
Many households are far from where they started last year. Financial insecurity is widespread, with 40 percent of respondents in one survey saying their current income falls short of their pre-pandemic income. Nine percent of American adults recently reported a shortage of food in their household over the previous week, according to U.S. Census survey data from March. Over 10 million people have fallen behind on their rent, including 21 percent of renters with children in their household. (The federal eviction moratorium currently in effect doesn’t forgive rent owed, it pushes the debt into the future.) Millions more are struggling to pay their mortgage. Close to 30 percent of adults reported some difficulty keeping up with expenses.
Employment also remains well below pre-pandemic levels. Somewhere around 9.5 million of the jobs lost during the pandemic have not returned. More than half of the job loss during the COVID crisis has come in low-wage industries. Last week, approximately 576,000 people initially applied for unemployment insurance, significantly down from the previous week. (A typical pre-pandemic week saw about 250,000 new unemployment applications.) Another 132,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which supports freelance and self-employed workers. Many jobless Americans have not received unemployment insurance and other government benefits, because of long waits, perceived ineligibility and other issues. And hiring (or re-hiring) for jobs in hard-hit industries like food service and hospitality is proceeding slowly.
However, large parts of the workforce felt little economic impact from the pandemic. Many jobs performed at a desk in an office can just as easily be performed at a desk in someone’s home. And with fewer outlets for spending, some actually managed to save more money. The personal saving rate ballooned to 33.7 percent last April and, at 13.7 percent for February 2021, remains almost double where it was before the pandemic.
$2,000 monthly payments until the pandemic is over. https://t.co/6tuia6prFJ
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 28, 2021
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