Woman Shopping in Retail

Retail Sales Increased Exponentially In March 

Retail sales for the US in March increased exponentially likely due to the fact that a fresh batch of stimulus checks were recently sent out to citizens. This is great news for the retail sector of the economy, which has been struggling greatly throughout the past year. 

The US Commerce Department reported that advance retail sales rose by 9.8% in March; the Dow Jones estimated a gain of 6.1% and a decline of 2.7% back in February. “Sporting goods, clothing and food and beverage led the gains in spending and contributed to the best month for retail since the May 2020 gain of 18.3%, which came after the first round of stimulus checks,” according to CNBC. 

The Labor Department also reported that “first-time filings for unemployment insurance plunged, with 576,000 new jobless claims for the week ended April 10. That was easily the lowest total since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and represented a sharp decline from the previous week’s total of 769,000. The Dow Jones claims estimate was 710,000.”

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As jobless claims began to decrease and stimulus checks continued to be mailed out, the retail industry saw a massive rise in spending. Sales were boosted by 28% when compared to what the industry looked like at this point last year during the beginning of the pandemic. 

The bar and restaurant industry saw a 13.4% increase as well thanks to the rollout of multiple vaccines and the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions. Currently the US is vaccinating more than 3 million people every day. 

Sporting goods saw the highest rise in spending last month, likely due to the fact that summer is approaching and more Americans realize they’ll be vaccinated an able to participate in more outdoor activities this year. That sector saw a 23.5% increase followed by clothing and accessories which saw a 18.3% increase. 

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“Spending will almost certainly drop back in April as some of the stimulus boost wears off, but with the vaccination rollout proceeding at a rapid pace and households finances in strong shape, we expect overall consumption growth to continue rebounding rapidly in the second quarter too,” wrote Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

The New York Federal Reserve released a report recently that indicated “stimulus recipients expect to save 41.6% of their checks and spend 24.7%. Following the first round of checks in the spring of 2020, consumers saved 34.5% and spent 29.2%. The consumer price index rose 2.6% in March from a year ago, thanks in part to a surge in gasoline prices. The year-over-year gain was the largest since August 2018.”

The past four weeks have shown a weekly average of 683,000 jobless claims, which is the lowest it’s been in quite some time. With this hopeful decrease in weekly claims, it’s likely that America’s economy overall will begin to see an increase in spending.

Who’s Getting The Next Round Of Stimulus Checks In The US?

Congress passed a $900 billion economic relief package Monday night that would give $600 stimulus checks to American adults to help them cope with the Covid-19 pandemic; the checks are half of the $1,200 that most adults received during the initial stimulus package at the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government has not provided any further financial assistance to its citizens until now. 

President Donald Trump, however, tweets on Tuesday night that he would not be signing the economic relief package, and then a video in which he urged Congress to increase the stimulus checks.

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 dollars to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple.”

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The $600 is obviously not going to be enough for most American households that have been struggling to cope with unemployment, monthly bills, and a lack of security. 6 in 10 Americans have claimed to be financially impacted by the pandemic. The checks will likely begin hitting individuals accounts as early as next week. 

Dependent children will now be receiving the same $600 checks that adults receive as well; which is an increase from the $500 checks that children received in the initial relief package. So who is eligible for the package in general?

Single individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive a check for $600 while married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,200; overall this package is half of what Americans received during the first round of stimulus payments. According to the House Appropriations committee, the amount of stimulus payment will decrease by $5 for every $100 of income that is earned above those thresholds. 

As previously mentioned an additional $600 will be directed towards every dependent child under the age of 17. Adult dependants, such as older high school students or college students, won’t qualify for checks as it’s expected that they rely on their parents for financial security. A family with two parents and two child dependents could receive up to $2,400. 

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Couples that include an immigrant without a Green Card will also qualify for the checks, a move that will be important for many families because the first round of stimulus checks didn’t provide payments for households unless all members held legal citizenship. This issue was taken to court, where it was found that denying checks to US citizens based on their spousal or parental relationships to someone who may not have a Green Card, is unconstitutional. 

Individuals receiving Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or Veteran benefits will also be receiving the $600 checks; these groups of people were also denied payments during the initial round of stimulus payments. 

The stimulus bill also includes an extra $300 a week for individuals on unemployment. This means current jobless Americans will receive their regular state unemployment payments as well as an additional $300 until March 14th, 2021. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program will also be extended; the program covers gig workers and self-employed individuals.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will also be extended into March; this program provides additional weeks of jobless aid to individuals who have already utilized all of their regular state unemployment benefits. The Paycheck Protection Program is also being extended by another $282 billion of forgivable loans. Some of that funding is being set aside for small businesses, nonprofits, and local newspaper, TV, and Radio broadcasters. 

Another $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans is being set aside for businesses in low-income communities, after the government received a ton of backlash for bailing out multi-million dollar corporations in the beginning of the pandemic, and continuing to leave smaller businesses in the dust.

US Stimulus Check

Why You May Have Not Received Your Stimulus Check Yet

More than 150 million Americans have received their coronavirus stimulus checks in the mail, however, if you’re in the same group as the other half of the country who has still yet to see their payment, there’s a few reasons as to why that can be true. The money in general is a part of a much larger financial relief package that was approved by the federal government when this pandemic began. It’s intended to help ease the damaging effects Covid-19 is having on the economy, and the IRS is still continuously sending out checks. 

First things first, you need to check your eligibility to receive a stimulus check. You can use the IRS’s website to check your eligibility, but the guidelines themselves state that an individual will be eligible for a stimulus check if they are a single US resident making an income less than $99,000, file as the head of the household and earn under $146,000, file jointly without children and earn less than $198,000, or are a parent to a child aged 16 or younger. 

The IRS could potentially have scheduled your payment for later in the year. As previously mentioned the IRS is still actively sending out stimulus checks, so there’s still a decent amount of Americans who haven’t received their payments simply because they’re still en route. In April, the IRS estimated that it could take up to 20 weeks to send every check, which could lead to some receiving their payments as late as September. 

If you’re receiving a paper check and not a direct deposit, your check will take even longer to get to you as the paper checks are processed and distributed at a much slower rate, luckily, there’s much less Americans receiving paper over digital. Once the check is mailed out, the IRS claims it will take around two weeks to be delivered. 

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Your bank could also be struggling to process your check if you’re receiving direct deposit. It can be difficult for banks to process an electronic money payment from the IRS when all of their clients are receiving the same amount of money at varying times. If your bank wasn’t able to process your check, however, the only thing that will happen is the payment will be sent back to the IRS and they’ll end up mailing a paper version to the address listed on your 2019 tax return. 

The IRS could also still be waiting to process your 2019 tax return and banking information. This is especially likely if you moved/changed banks within the past year. Along those same lines, the information that the IRS has on file for you could also be outdated in terms of your current address and bank. Remember, they’re using your information from your 2018/2019 tax returns, so make sure that information is accurate. 

If you’re past-due on child support payments the IRS claims that your payment may be delayed or completely deducted until they receive that money. However, if you’re in that position the Bureau of Fiscal Service should have already told you. 

If you’re claimed as a dependent on your parents tax return you also will not be receiving payment, and to children of divorce, depending on each parents income, the parent who claimed the child as a dependent on their 2019 tax return will receive payment. 

Again, if you’re unsure of your eligibility status or have even more questions as to why you haven’t received your payment yet, check out the IRS’s website where they lay out in much more depth the specifics of these stimulus payments.

Stimulus Check

How To Track Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check Status

Coronavirus stimulus payments have begun being distributed to Americans all across the country. Every adult will be receiving $1,200 and an additional $500 per dependent child as a part of the Economic Impact Payments authorized by the CARES Act. These payments are meant to “mitigate the financial damage caused by the global lockdowns” according to the IRS. 

The IRS will be sending both paper checks and direct deposit payments. Direct deposit payments have already begun appearing in certain individuals accounts, while paper checks will be sent out at a rate of 5 million per week starting this week. The physical checks can take up to five months to get to everyone who’s receiving paper as opposed to an electronic payment.

If you don’t want to wait until August/September to receive your check, there’s a few things you can do right now, but you have to move quickly. First, you need to make sure that the IRS has your correct banking information. They typically get this information from your tax returns, so if you filed your 2018/2019 return with your current banking information you should be all set. However, if you have outdated banking information on your most recent return, you’ll need to send the IRS your current status. 

You can update the information that the IRS has on file for you by visiting their website and inputting your bank details along with other basic financial information such as your income and dependents. If you don’t provide the IRS with these details, you won’t receive a stimulus check at all. The IRS needs to have all of your information processed and inputted into their official system before a check can even be signed. 

The IRS has simplified their website to be much more user friendly in light of the coronavirus pandemic and all the economic confusion surrounding it. This way, you can easily check your checks status, as well as update any information regarding your finances and banking.

If you aren’t sure whether or not the IRS has your correct information or not, click on the “Get My Payment” tab on the website. If your payment shows up as “pending” or “processed” you won’t be able to change any of your banking information that’s on file, but a stimulus check should likely already be on its way to you. If not, you should have the option to provide the IRS with your updated information. 

If you haven’t filed a tax return and don’t receive any Social Security Benefits, visit the website and click on the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tab to provide information on your dependents, income, and overall eligibility for the coronavirus stimulus check. 

As previously mentioned, you should move fairly quickly now when checking your stimulus payment status. If the IRS has the wrong information on file, the bank that it does get sent to will reject the check, and if it’s paper, the IRS will be notified and so will you, but it will likely be a very long time before you receive that notification and your money. If the IRS doesn’t have your banking details, they will automatically mail the check to your last known address, so make sure that the address they have on file is correct.

During this time of confusion and panic, we all could use all the help we can get, especially financially. To make sure you’re not left waiting indefinitely for a check that may never come, make sure the IRS has all of your correct financial information on record so you and your loved ones can receive the payment you deserve.