Stimulus Update: Could Increasing Jobless Claims Help the Push for a Fourth Stimulus Check?

Stack of 100 dollar bills with illustrative coronavirus stimulus payment check to show the virus stimulus payment to Americans.
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Talk of a fourth stimulus check has ratcheted up in recent days following last week’s news that U.S. jobless claims are on the rise again, though for now there’s no indication that another check is forthcoming.

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Jobless claims for the week ended Sept. 18 came in at 351,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. The prior week’s level also was revised higher by 3,000 claims.

The increase in jobless claims — combined with economic uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 delta variant, higher inflation and a looming government shutdown — have revived talk of a fourth stimulus check to help struggling Americans navigate various financial potholes (though in truth, talk of a fourth check has been going on for months).

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The conventional wisdom is that a fourth check is unlikely, at least over the near-term. That’s partly because lawmakers already have more than enough on their plates. Congress is trying to pass a new spending bill by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is mainly focused on advancing its $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan, CBS News reported.

Given all that, it doesn’t seem probable that lawmakers will tackle a fourth stimulus payment anytime soon, experts say.

“The fall is shaping up to be a busy time in Washington as Congress tries to finish two infrastructure bills (one which includes tax hikes), approve the annual spending bills, and raise the debt ceiling,” Brian Gardner, the chief Washington policy strategist for Stifel, wrote in a research note last month.

Even so, talk of a fourth stimulus won’t go away. As GOBankingRates has previously reported, 21 senators signed a letter to President Joe Biden last spring in support of recurring stimulus payments. More than 2.8 million people have signed a petition calling for $2,000 monthly stimulus checks for every American, and the number of signatures keeps increasing.

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And calls for a fourth payment have only grown louder since the Delta variant slowed the nation’s economic rebound. As CBS News noted, some states with low vaccination rates have seen a spike in COVID-19 — something that might dissuade unemployed people from taking restaurant and other service jobs that put them at risk of catching the virus, which would do nothing to improve the nation’s unemployment situation.

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For now, the best bet for Americans seeking more financial relief is to move to states that have their own stimulus programs in place. As part of the American Rescue Plan stimulus relief bill, states were allotted more than $200 billion dollars to spend towards their own economic recoveries from the pandemic, GOBankingRates reported earlier this month.

Some states have put that money toward their own stimulus programs, including California, Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico and New York.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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