Stimulus check round 2: Jobs report on Thursday could be key

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – If you’re one of the millions of Americans hoping to receive a second round of stimulus relief, you’ll want to closely monitor a key report due to be released Thursday.

A new report from The Hill says additional financial support may hinge on Thursday’s monthly jobs report.

May’s report showed the country gained 2.5 million jobs. If that growth trend continues in June, many analysts feel lawmakers would move past a second round of stimulus checks pointing to early signs of an economic recovery.

The Hill reports lawmakers would be more likely to extend increased unemployment benefits that are currently slated to sunset at the end of July.

“They don’t see the market crashing, they see a better-than-expected jobs report last month, and so their focus is very much targeted [around a] back-to-work narrative,” said Ben Koltun, a senior research analyst at Washington’s Beacon Policy Advisors, in an interview with The Hill. “If there’s a bad jobs report — and when you see more people out of work than last month — then there may be an impetus by more Republicans in the conference to provide broader support and more stimulus spending than they’re talking about right now.”

Despite President Donald Trump’s recent comments suggesting that a “very generous” second round of economic relief payments to Americans might be announced soon, lawmakers we spoke with remain divided on the path forward.

Democratic Illinois Congressman Jesus Garcia is in favor of another round of relief payments and warned that the pandemic is not ending.

“Without a doubt, we owe it to the American people,” said Garcia. “The high unemployment rates across the country argue for at least one more stimulus check and an extension of unemployment insurance benefits.”

“Our states, our local governments need the support. They’ve lost 20% or more of revenue,” added Democratic Congressman Jim Costa of California. “We have spikes increasing in COVID-19 in many states across the country, including California. We need to provide the resources and the support in terms of the stimulus package because we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Unlike the federal government, which borrows freely to finance its operations, states must balance their budgets every year, which typically forces spending cuts in lean times like now, which both conservative and liberal economists agree is harmful.

There’s a widespread assumption in Congress that state and local aid will be at the center of next month’s proposed COVID-19 rescue bill, along with another $300 billion or so round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

But skeptics of a big state aid package say it would be sufficient, for now, to provide greater flexibility for using the $150 billion state aid installment enacted in March and have states use up their rainy-day funds, which had been filled up with more than $100 billion in cash during good economic times.

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., called for a safe return to jobs instead of continued extra unemployment bonuses.

“In Gatlinburg, Tennessee, right now, they’re offering a $1,000 signing bonus for servers in restaurants because if you’re getting paid $500 or $600 more a month to stay home, dadgummit, you’re going to stay home. It’s just human nature,” Burchett said. “We’ve got to get away from that. We’re depleting the Treasury at a record pace, trillions of dollars in debt. America needs to get back to work.”

Skeptics of a big state aid package say it would be sufficient, for now, to provide greater flexibility for using the $150 billion state aid installment enacted in March and have states use up their rainy-day funds, which had been filled up with more than $100 billion in cash during good economic times.

But with a spike in COVID-19 caseloads in states such as Texas, Florida and Arizona, fears are growing of a worse-than-expected second virus wave and lingering economic destruction to state and local budgets that would be more damaging to the economy and require more federal aid to mitigate the potential loss of 6 million jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate will consider a second stimulus package in July and blamed Democrats for practicing “political theater.”

“As you’ve heard suggested, I said back in March we would take another look at this … probably in July … take a snapshot of where we are, both on the healthy front and the economic recovery front, and decide at that point what needs to be done further,” McConnell said.

Congress and the Senate will recess from July 3 to July 20. It’s unlikely the Senate will consider any additional relief packages before July 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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