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(CBS DFW) — A fourth stimulus check is still possible, with the third round of economic relief payments almost complete. Over 165 million payments of up to $1,400 per person have been sent out since the third stimulus package passed in mid-March. Another million paper checks and EIP cards are being issued this week. And many more plus-up payments, for those who didn’t receive what they were due, have also been sent. All of this covers most of the $422 billion set aside in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
These relief payments are part of a broad effort to lessen COVID’s economic impact on households and support the economy while the pandemic recovery continues. The stimulus package also extends unemployment benefits, enhances the child tax credit, and much more. The latest round of checks has followed the $1,200 CARES Act payments at the pandemic’s outset and the $600 payments from January.
In the first quarter of 2021, the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 6.4 percent, faster than the 4.3 percent rate from the fourth quarter of 2020. The annual rate of growth could reach double-digits in the second quarter. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP), an estimate of economic activity in the economy, is close to where it was before the pandemic. Experts believe it will return to its pre-pandemic level this summer. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, “the increase in first quarter GDP reflected the continued economic recovery, reopening of establishments, and continued government response related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Large segments of the workforce have felt little economic impact from the pandemic. Many jobs performed at a desk in an office are just as easily performed at a desk in someone’s home. And with fewer outlets for spending, plus three stimulus checks, many Americans managed to save more money. The personal saving rate ballooned to 33.7 percent in April of 2020 and has remained well above pre-pandemic levels ever since. In March of 2021, it spiked again to 27.6 percent, likely due to the latest round of stimulus checks and tax refunds. Many households have accumulated much more savings than they had before the pandemic. With the economy opening up, that pent-up demand will continue to affect the broader economy.
The housing market has also surged, as people stuck at home realized the limitations of their living space. The National Association of Realtors recently reported that the national median sales price for a home hit $329,100 in March, up 17.2 percent from March of 2020. That number rose in every region of the country. Much of that rise was likely pushed by houses priced above the median. Housing inventory increased slightly over February, but was still down 28.2 percent year over year. And of the homes that sold in March, 83 percent were for sale for less than a month.
$2,000 monthly payments until the pandemic is over. https://t.co/6tuia6prFJ
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 28, 2021
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