Americans got some good news last week: The May jobs report showed that the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic was less than feared. That may be bad news if you, like so many Americans, were hoping for a second stimulus check.
U.S. employers added 2.5 million jobs in May and the jobless rate declined to 13.3% from 14.7%, according to data from the Labor Department released last week. It was a better outcome than many experts had expected: Economists had forecast further job losses and an unemployment rate closer to 20%.
While that’s beneficial for the economy overall, it has put a damper on talks of further economic stimulus packages. For households, that may mean that a second stimulus check is not on the way, or at least not anytime soon.
On the plus side, though, for people who’re hoping for more direct government help, members of Congress are considering “back-to-work” bonuses ranging in value from $450 a week to up to $1,200.
A second stimulus check vs. a ‘back-to-work’ bonus
Last month, House Democrats passed the HEROES Act, which would give households a second stimulus check of up to $6,000 in some cases and extend the $600-a-week enhanced unemployment benefits currently set to expire at the end of July. That bill has stalled in the Senate.
Since then, lawmakers have brought forth alternative proposals, including a “return-to-work bonus” that could pay people who are currently unemployed up to $450 per week to return to their jobs. Other bills would give the unemployed bonuses of up to $1,200 to go back. In both cases, the payouts would be available through July.
Some lawmakers prefer a return-to-work bonus over a second stimulus check because they think it would help the economy recover faster and ultimately be less costly to the government. The bonus would also lure people back into employment by replacing, or rerouting, some of the current enhanced $600-a-week unemployment benefits. Those more generous benefits, lawmakers fear, make it worthwhile for people to stay home.