CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECK

Fourth stimulus check: What was the unemployment rate when the last relief bill was passed?

The Labor Department has recently released the latest employment data for June. The mixed results may strengthen calls for a fourth stimulus check to aid the recovery.

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Fourth stimulus check: What was the unemployment rate when the last relief bill was passed?
MANDEL NGAN AFP

On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the United States’ unemployment data for June, which may impact how President Biden chooses to negotiate the next stage of the country’s economic recovery.

The White House has been eager to point out that more than 850,000 jobs were added during the month, 200,000 more than were added in May. However there is concern that the national unemployment rate actually rose slightly to 5.9%.

How does this compare to the unemployment rate when the last stimulus bill was signed?

During his first six months in the White House Biden has looked to pursue a more ambitious agenda than some were expecting. His willingness to spend was clear even before he entered office, when he first unveiled his American Rescue Plan in early January. The $1.9 trillion relief package included a round of $1,400 stimulus checks, an expanded Child Tax Credit and extension to the additional unemployment benefits.

At that time the US’ unemployment rate was at 6.3%, an improvement on the 6.7% rate seen in both November and December. By the time the package was signed into law in March the unemployment rate had dropped to 6%, only slightly higher than the 5.9% reported in the new report.

Upon signing the American Rescue Plan into law, Biden told those gathered: "This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation, working people, middle class folks, people who built the country, a fighting chance.”

But now, with the unemployment rate in a similar position as it was then, are there any plans to introduce a new wave of stimulus spending?

Should there be a fourth round of stimulus checks after the mixed jobs report?

In April and May, the months following the distribution of the third round of stimulus checks, the US enjoyed a boom in consumer spending which may have helped fuelled a resurgence in the jobs market. However one in three people surveyed at the time said that the support would last them less than one month, leading to calls for another round of direct payments.

Throughout the pandemic many experts have suggested that more support is needed to assist the recovery effort. A group of over 150 top economists, including Jason Furman, former economist for the Obama White House, signed a letter calling for "recurring direct stimulus payments, lasting until the economy recovers."

There is also concern that many people have been unable to access the unemployment support programmes that have been made available. In March a study by economist Eliza Forsythe found that only around 40% of jobless workers had been able to receive unemployment aid.