Last weekend, I was talking to a friend I ran into at the grocery store. We hadn’t seen each other since high school and it was great to catch up with her — she’s a single mother like I am, and was saying how the isolation has been hard on her mental health.
As we were standing in front of pickles and canned olives, and her son asked for everything within reach, she added she’d never had to worry so hard about making sure she doesn’t go over her food budget at the grocery store.
She’s a waitress at a bar in the state’s biggest city and she hasn’t been able to work since March. “I still don’t know when I can go back to work,” she told me. “It was supposed to be July 1st, but now that’s in question. My stimulus check was spent before I got it. I needed it for rent.”
She’s been out of work, with only a tentative restarting date, and things are going up in price. That’s a really scary situation.
While she does get unemployment benefits, the perk looks to be running out on July 31. She’s worried about the timing — if she can’t start making money again, and her extra benefits run out in the coming weeks, what is she supposed to do?
Her story isn’t unique. Scary Mommy polled some of their readers who said their stimulus checks were used to keep them afloat:
One woman said, “Being a traveling nurse, I was out of work. I was able to make one car payment with the check, but it literally helped put food on the table and gas in our cars. My wife and I are debt-free so we feel lucky that it kept us from having to put things on credit cards.”
Another single mother said, “I used it to pay my rent that month.”
And a married couple who has two children said they used it to pay bills and part of their mortgage.
Some people were lucky enough to use their stimulus check to help local businesses because it didn’t have to go towards their bills. One man said he was able to help out his neighbor by paying him to repair their roof.
And one woman told us she and her husband put it in their savings account to help compensate for the lost work they both had during COVID-19.
The first round of checks for those who qualified was nice, but we need more help. Grocery prices are soaring and not slowing down. In April, the price of putting food on the table had the biggest spike in fifty years, going up by 4%. Many people are not of work, and will not have a job to turn back to upon reopening.
The positive COVID-19 cases are increasing in some states as a result of reopening too early. The New York Times reports 26 states are seeing a rise in cases, which means there may be another round of shutdowns, forcing more people out of work. According to The New York Post , the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says, “A second round of coronavirus infections could cripple the global economy’s recovery from the worst recession in nearly a century.”
The OFEC also adds that if there is another lockdown on the heels of the last one, the economy could “plunge 7.6 percent this year and only recover 2.8 percent in 2021.”
Unemployment rates since this pandemic were higher than two years of the Great Depression, hitting women and Black men the hardest.
So yeah, we need more stimulus money and we need it soon. The first round did help: as studies confirmed ,the unemployment rate could have spiked up to 4% higher without those checks. But unless people rationed the stimulus money from the first round — a highly unlikely scenario for many folks, especially those who depended on the money to keep them afloat — the second half of the year could be financially dismal.
Hopefully we will know more soon. According to CNET, “the US still has one of the highest rates of out-of-work job-seekers in the world, according to the OECD report. And despite the dip in new Labor Department filings, the numbers represent 13 straight weeks that more than 1 million out of work Americans filed for unemployment for the first time.”
There is talk the second wave of checks will be voted on in July, but what can we expect? While President Trump is saying it will be “dramatic” and “ generous,” it still has to be passed by the House and Senate before it reaches the President’s desk. And according to The Washington Post, there is widespread disagreement. While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has advocated sending another sweeping round of checks, Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said that a better plan would be to target those who need the money most desperately rather than the nearly 160 million Americans who received the first round. And conservative Congressional Republicans oppose it entirely, fearing the impact of new spending on the national deficit.
Even if everyone were to agree on a suitable solution fairly quickly, it could still take weeks for the money to be doled out.
We know we need the stimulus money, and we need it bad. It’s frustrating to know that the only thing we can do is wait, but there is hope that the rescue funds will come to fruition and be distributed this summer.
Fingers crossed, America.
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