(NEXSTAR) — While some politicians and nonprofits are already pushing for a possible fourth stimulus check, a record request from the Boston Herald found that 1.24 million economic impact payments have still not been issued from the first round of support.
The newspaper obtained the data from the Internal Revenue Service under a Freedom of Information Act.
The IRS told the Herald that the 1,245,339 uncashed checks “represent the number of people who either refused to accept, refund, or failed to cash the stimulus checks they received from the IRS as a result of the CARES Act enacted on March 27 was signed. , 2020.”
When it comes to which states have the most notable stimulus checks, California has the most with 123,265, followed by Florida with 92,018, according to the Herald. The next three highest are Texas, New York and Pennsylvania.
In New England, Massachusetts is in first place with 27,689, followed by Connecticut with 13,353, New Hampshire with 5,859, Maine with 5,426, Rhode Island with 4,190 and Vermont with 3,169.
The push for a fourth stimulus check
Members of a powerful congressional committee are calling for additional rounds of economic aid from the federal government for families still struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With the third round of $1,400 stimulus checks behind us, a letter sent to President Joe Biden late last week by seven Democrats from the House Ways and Means Committee calls for a fourth and fifth round of direct payments to help people with housing. , food and other payments. The commission oversees the government budget and taxes. The group that signed the letter represents about 15% of the committee members.
“Families and workers should not worry about having enough money to pay for basic needs in the coming months as the country continues to fight a global pandemic and recession,” the letter reads.
The letter, dated May 17, does not specify a dollar amount, but explains the possibility of two additional rounds of aid.
“A fourth and fifth check could keep an additional 12 million out of poverty,” the letter said. “Combined with the effects of the [American Recovery Plan], direct payments could reduce the number of people living in poverty from 44 million to 16 million by 2021.”
Previous letters from Congress asking for additional aid have been signed by more than 80 Democratic lawmakers. A change.org petition on this topic has gathered more than 2 million signatures from the general public.
What is the probability of a fourth round of stimulus checks?
Even with growing support among some Democratic lawmakers, a fourth round of stimulus checks is running into major hurdles. The third round of relief squeaked through Congress thanks to a budget loophole when it failed to find bipartisan support. Since that time, numerous Republican governors have denied federal COVID unemployment benefits, arguing that they are encouraging people to stay home and raise money rather than return to work. Proposals for additional direct payments would likely meet similar criticism.
In addition, Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi have been relatively quiet about the possibility of additional controls. Instead, their focus is on passing Biden’s infrastructure plan.
When asked directly about stimulus checks earlier this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded by saying, “We’ll see what members of Congress propose,” adding that the payments “were not free.”
The government has issued three direct payments since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. About a year ago, the government sent $1,200 incentive checks to most Americans through the CARES Act. In late 2020, the government approved payments of $600 per person. That was followed by the third stimulus payment of $1,400.
In the latest round of COVID relief efforts, the US government said it has sent about 159 million direct payments to households, worth $376 billion in total.
Employers struggle to fill open positions
US companies are looking to hire staff and ramp up production, but are facing shortages of both workers and raw materials in some sectors.
The U.S. job market recovery stalled last month as many businesses — from restaurants and hotels to factories and construction companies — struggled to find enough workers to catch up to the burgeoning economic recovery.
The slowdown in hiring over the past month seems to reflect many factors. According to government surveys, nearly 3 million people are reluctant to look for work because of fear of contracting the virus. More women also left the workforce last month, likely to care for children, after many had returned in the previous two months.
In addition, construction companies and manufacturers, especially automakers, are short of parts due to congested supply chains and have had to slow production for the time being. Both sectors withdrew their staff in April. And some companies say they believe that $300 a week unemployment benefits paid by the federal government discourages some unemployed from taking new jobs.
Still, companies have added jobs for four straight months, the Labor Department reported, even though the government cut its estimate of job growth for February and March by a total of 78,000.
The resumption of hiring has prompted some Americans to look for work, meaning they will be counted as unemployed for the first time if they don’t find work right away. This is what happened in April, when the unemployment rate rose from 6% to 6.1%.
Employers are now posting far more jobs than they were before the pandemic, and many restaurant windows have “help wanted” signs on them. Other telltale signs of labor shortages have also emerged: Average hourly wages rose 0.7% to $30.17 in April, suggesting the government’s rapid reopening of the economy “may be putting upward pressure on wages.” exerted”. The average workweek also rose, proving that companies are asking their employees to work more hours.
“Demand exceeds supply,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, a job board. “That’s something that’s happening across the economy, from semiconductors to wood, and we’re seeing a similar crisis in the job market.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.