The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the June jobs report on Thursday, but what do the numbers mean for the fate of a second stimulus check? With Congress set to reconvene later this month to begin discussions regarding another relief package, Thursday's jobs report has long been considered a critical factor in determining whether or not further aid was necessary.
While the coronavirus pandemic has led to record-high unemployment rates, reaching levels that had not been seen since the Great Depression, the positive trend that began in May continued in June. According to the report, the U.S. economy gained 4.8 million jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent in June, figures that exceeded predictions by economists, NBC News reports. But not all of the numbers were bright and shiny. The weekly initial jobless claims numbers showed that 1.427 million people filed for first-time jobless benefits, meaning that people are still struggling to hold jobs. That number, though, has started to "curve down."
While the report offers a sign of hope for the struggling economy, it could spell doom for Americans counting on another direct payment from the federal government. In the days leading up to the release of the jobs report, multiple sources have claimed that the second month of employment gains would add emphasis to arguments against the second round of stimulus checks. Speaking with The Hill, Ben Koltun, senior research analyst at Beacon Policy Advisors in Washington, said that a positive jobs report could potentially cause lawmakers to shift their focus "very much targeted [around a] back-to-work narrative." A gloomier report, however, was largely believed to have added emphasis on a need for "broader support and more stimulus spending."
However, this doesn't mean that hope for another economic payment is entirely out of the picture. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has himself said that the Senate would be keeping an eye on signs of a recovering economy when considering further economic aid, it is likely that lawmakers will take into account the surging cases of coronavirus across the country. It was the steadily rising case numbers beginning in March that sparked an urgent need for the first stimulus package, the CARES Act. With cases starting to grow again, hitting new daily highs not previously seen when that first package was passed, dozens of states are pausing reopenings, with some even reverting, sparking new concerns for unemployment numbers and the health of the economy. Such circumstances could add support to the argument that another round of stimulus checks is necessary.
In the end, however, Americans will likely have to wait several more weeks to find out if their calls for help will be answered. Congress is scheduled to reconvene on July 20, and some believe that they will attempt to negotiate and pass a relief package by early August.