Fourth stimulus check news summary: 24 September 2021
Fourth stimulus check updates: 24 September
- One state announces program to provide unemployment benefits to self-employed people including "gig-workers." But will it actually? (Full story)
- The vast majority of families with children in the US will see three more payments for the Child Tax Credit. (Full story)
- Several states consider sending their own stimulus checks. (Full story)
- Petition to send a fourth stimulus check to those on Social Security reaches one million signatures. (Full story)
- Millions lost unemployment benefits earlier this month, but are states who cut them sooner seeing greater increase in job growth? (Details)
- A potential government shutdown could delay the payments of Social Security benefits. (Details)
- New projections show possible 6.1% COLA increase for those on Social Security. (Full story)
- Several states are planning to send residents stimulus checks as chances of a new federal payment decrease. (Details)
- COLA update to Social Security benefits expected in October. How are payments determined? (Full story)
- California begins rollout of $1,100 stimulus check. Who is eligible? (Details)
Useful information / links
- Overview of the three stimulus checks passed by Congress (Full details)
- How to track your Golden State Stimulus check
- Third Child Tax Credit payments sent out (How to opt out of monthly CTC)
Take a look at some of our related news articles:
Biden administration tells heads of key agencies to prepare for a government shutdown
Just a few years after the last government shutdown, Washington is poised for another.
In the case Democrats and Republicans cannot reach an agreement, the President has called upon key leaders to prepare their agencies for a shutdown.
How much will the Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment increase be in 2022?
The Senior Citizen League, an organization that advocates for the rights of seniors, released a new projection for the 2022 COLA that forecasted an increase between 6 and 6.1 percent.
Other projections from various organizations including Moody’s Analytics and the economics blog Calculated Risk both released lower projections of 5.6 and 5.8 percent, respectively
Mary Johnson, a Social Security policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League, said in a statement released by the organization that their “forecast is based on CPI data through August, and there is still one more month of consumer price data to come in before we get the official announcement.”
Read more on this possible historic increase in our full coverage.
According to the online outlet, Fortunly, around fifty-nine million people in the US form part of the gig economy.
Before the CARES Act was passed in March 2020, there were no federal programs to provide unemployment compensation to self-employed people. Through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program, these workers were able to receive benefits.
However, the program ended on 6 September, and the week before it lapsed more than 4.8 million workers were still claiming benefits.
One state, Louisiana, has announced that it will provide additional unemployment compensation to self-employed workers. But after taking a closer look at the press release, titled "Louisiana gig workers could benefit from special, one-time Mixed Earners Unemployment Program," that does not seem to be the case.
Read our full coverage for more details on the program as well as an in depth look into the growing "gig" economy.
8.5 million people were claiming unemployment benefits when federal programs ended in early September
The week before federal pandemic unemployment programs -- PEUC and PUA -- ended, there were more than 8 million people still claiming benefits. These individuals have now seen their incomes plummet.
As for the data from last week (ending on 18 September), initial unemployment claims increased by 16,000 to 351,000.
Which states saw increases in initial claims for the week ending on 11 September?
1. Louisiana (+4,318)
2. District of Columbia (+3,783)
3. Arizona (+3,739)
4. Maryland (+2,018)
5. Missouri (+1,658)
Which states saw decreases in initial claims for the week ending on 11 September?
1. Illinois (-7,481)
2. California (-5,950)
3. Ohio (-4,665)
4. Texas (-3,635)
5. Virginia (-2,357).
Read the full report here.
How do your annual earnings impact the total amount you will receive in social security benefits?
To calculate your benefit amount, the Social Security Administration looks at your “average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.” To account for inflation and other factors, the agency will take your yearly earnings and adjust them to “account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received.”
Read our full coverage for more details on how the benefits are calculated and how much they are expected to increase next year.
How much have prices increased in the last year?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that since August 2020, the prices of goods and services have risen by an average of 5.3%.
However, much of these increases were driven by certain sectors and products like used cars, air travel, and gasoline.
Still, consumers are paying as much as 3% more for grocceries which is hurting wallets across US households.
Which states saw an increase in unemployment claims for the week ending on 18 September?
Initial Claims (18 September)
Alaska (275), Arizona (1,693), California (24,221), Colorado (478), Delaware (95), District of Colombia (692), Hawaii (1,536), Illinois (964), Indiana (108), Iowa (363), Kansas (35), Kentucky (1,655), Maryland (1,587), Michigan (747), Minnesota (800), Nevada (327), New Jersey (680), North Carolina (2,900), North Dakota (49), Ohio (3,482), Oregon (3,331), Rhode Island (130), Utah (72), Vermont (21), Virginia (12,879), Wisconsin (1,200), and Wyoming (9).
The ending of the extra unemployment benefits, despite the pandemic being far from over, have thrown millions of Americans into a precarious position. This emergency has led some states to look to provide their citizens in need with extra economic boosters, coming in the form of more stimulus checks and several other benefits to those who qualify for the payments.
This article includes the states that are already sending their own payments, as well as those which are considering taking up the measure.
Pelosi letter to colleagues urging them to come together
With hopes of passing both the reconciliation and infrastructure bills fading, senior Democrats are pulling out all the stops to get their agenda over the finish line.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has penned a letter to her Democrat colleagues.
Despite mostly being a letter of thanks to colleagues, the interesting part right at the bottom is the "looking forward" to passing both bills next week.
Might they still be tied together for the vote on Monday?
There has been a lot of talk lately about a need to compromise... to a significant degree that has already taken place. Of the 11 Democratic members of the Senate budgetary committee, 9 understood the need for a $6 trillion bill... We agreed to cut that proposal almost in half. That in my mind is a major, major compromise.
Every penny of that $3.5 trillion is absolutely needed. And let me also make clear, it will not add one nickel to the deficit. It will be paid for by finally demanding some of the wealthiest, who in a given year do not pay a nickel in federal income tax, to start paying their fair share of taxes.
Sanders speaks on the reconciliation bill
The video below is from moments ago in the Senate. Congress is still fraught with deciding what to do with the bills as both wings of the Democrat party threaten to pull them apart at the seams.
His quotes can be found above.
"Some time" to sort the bills says Biden
President Biden says at the White House that the $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation package actually has a “zero price tag”, attempting to convey that the provisions in the bill are fully paid for.
Nancy Pelosi has also said the infrastructure bill will "come to the floor" next week.
Six payments of the Child Tax Credit were and are due this year. Recipients can claim up to $1,800 per child under six this year, split into the six payments. For recipients with children between six and 17 then they can receive $1,500 per child.
Three payments have been sent so far; July, August and September, with the next due in just over three weeks on October 15. The opt-out date is on October 4, so if you think it may be beneficial for you to opt out, then you must do so by this date. This can be done by using the IRS portal here. The November and December payments will come on the 15 of both months, but the other half of payments come at a slightly different time.
Could Democrats get enough votes for the infrastructure bill?
After splitting the infrastructure and reconciliation bills earlier this week, senior Dems are pushing ahead to vote on the former this Monday. It was negotiated by both parties, so the Dems hope they can entice some Republican voters for support. Normally this wouldn't be needed, but the Dems cannot count on their whole party to support the plans.
The progressive caucus has said they will not support the bills if they were divided because it could mean the reconciliation bill will not pass through Congress. No reconciliation bill could mean no extension to the Child Tax Credit.
House Republicans are being whipped to oppose the bill, despite their colleagues in the Senate negotiating it.
While the chances of a fourth stimulus check being sent to the millions of households that received the first three are dwindling, support for a new more targeted check is gaining popularity at the grassroots level.
The Senior Citizens League (SCL), an organization that advocates for the rights of seniors argue that the federal government should send $1,400 to Social Security beneficiaries who have seen their disposable incomes plummet during the pandemic.
The SCL has conducted a survey asking seniors about their economic concerns.
More figures for what a government shutdown would entail
The United States could plunge into an immediate recession if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and the country defaults on its payment obligations this fall, according to one analysis released Tuesday.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, found that an impasse over the debt ceiling would cost the US economy up to 6 million jobs, wipe out as much as $15 trillion in household wealth. The unemployment rate would increase by 4 percentage points, to 9 percent.
There is agreement that it needs to be lifted, but the Republicans want it raised only with a limiting of the Democrat agenda.
Child Tax Credit continuing to have benefits
According to a report from a team of researchers from Washington University of St. Louis, Appalachian State, UNC-Greensboro, the Urban Institute and Humanity Forward, 94% of families are planning to continue working or are working even more after payments of the Child Tax Credit. The CTC has already been proven to lift the mental health of those receiving it due to it alleviating pressing pandemic bills.
If there was an argument, like that supposed by people against the extra unemployment benefits, that the CTC was withholding people from work, then they have been mistaken. $300 per child is surely not enough to subsist without work anyhow.
But there could be warnings on the horizon, as right-leaning Democrat Senator Joe Manchin wants to make future CTC payments means tested and only for people who are working. The Democrats are trying to get the CTC extended to 2025 as part of the reconciliation bill.
As mentioned, social security payments could be hit by a government shutdown. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen shocked thousands of Americans earlier this week when suggesting the government could pull back from issuing social security checks if Congress doesn’t increase the debt ceiling.
“Nearly 50 million seniors could stop receiving Social Security checks for a time,” Yellen wrote.
However, if you are worried social security payments could be cut too, you can breathe a sigh of relief, as the president of Social Security Works, Nancy Alman made assurances checks will continue to be issued, regardless of the outcome of the debt ceiling negotiations.
However, recipients might experience delays in receiving them.
... and the US could default on its debt for the first time in history
And coupled with this big week is an impending debt repayment which, if the debt ceiling is not lifted, could cause a general economic downturn.
At the moment, the debt stands at $28.5 trillion. While this is a huge amount of debt, there is confidence in the American economy that one day it could pay all this debt off, or at least if you were an investor you could count on the US government to get your money back if you invested in it.
But if it were to default, the price of the dollar would slide and due to all the foreign investment in the US economy, many countries would see a reduction in their foreign reserves, leading to less global investment.
... and failure to pass bills could lead to government shutdown
With the Democrat agenda needing passing, another threat to the government is the impending end of the fiscal year for Congress. The debt ceiling needs to be lifted and without this the government would have to shut down. This would put all federal payments under threat, including pensions and the sending out of the Child Tax Credit.
The Republicans have said they will not support a ceiling raise, so Democrats are trying to find a work around that would prevent all this from transpiring.
Crunch week in Congress to come to a head on Monday...
Another developing story overnight was the passage of the reconciliation and infrastructure bills. Both are stuck in the House of Representatives with both wings of the Democrat party threatening to unravel the agenda.
The progressives accuse the party of reneging on promises that both bills would travel together, ensuring that both would get passed. Moderates on the right want the reconciliation bill watered down and progressives fear this could mean it not passing altogether.
Despite the prospect of a federal fourth stimulus check becoming increasingly unlikely, some states have brought in their own measures to attempt to lift people out of the covid-19 depression.
California, New Jersey and New Mexico have provisions for extra checks, ranging between $500 and $1,100 in total. Teachers in some teaching districts are receiving one off 'thank you' payments, but largely at the expense of a permanent pay rise.
And with there being no provisions in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill for more checks, these represent the only other true stimulus checks for the immediate future.
Fourth stimulus check updates: welcome
Hello, good morning, and welcome to our daily stimulus check live feed for Friday 24 September. We'll aim to keep you up to date with all the latest on the financial assistance programmes on offer in the United States.
Congress is currently in the process of debating President Biden's $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, which could also include a Child Tax Credit extension and additional unemployment benefits.