The value of stimulus checks sent by the Internal Revenue Service during the first round of payments that were not cashed exceeded $2 billion.
According to an analysis of data provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in response to a Newsweek request for information, of the 160 million stimulus payments sent out from the first round, about 1.25 million stimulus checks have never been cashed or have been returned or refunded to the Treasury Department.
The first-round stimulus checks that were not cashed or returned represent at least one percent, or 0.78 percent worth more than $2 billion, of the total $270 billion that the IRS sent. That small percentage has impressed observers tracking the economic impact of checks during the pandemic.
According to the analysis Pennsylvanians, Vermonters, Montanans and Michiganders were the most likely to leave their money on the table and Arizonans and Texans took the most advantage of the stimulus check sent.
Checks sent in error:
In October the IRS reported that the number of checks that had missed their intended recipients was down to 9 million people, most had never filed a tax return, were homeless or lived in rural areas, hospitals and nursing homes so the IRS had to translate payment information into more than 35 languages.
The Government Accountability Office reported in June 2020 that the IRS mistakenly sent more than 1.1 million checks to people who were deceased. The checks that were not cashed were voided and the agency even asked family members to return the money.
Fourth stimulus check or more work?
Biden said that the employment data presented on Friday shows that more workers are looking for jobs but many have not found them, so it is necessary to boost the economy even more.
With what looked like a sign that the U.S. economy would revive faster, expectations of 1 million new jobs in April were dashed when the Labor Department released its new jobs report Friday. Job growth held up, but was only a quarter of what was expected as the unemployment rate rose 0.1% from March to 6.1%.
However, those who are pushing the White House to invest more in the U.S. economy or to grant a fourth stimulus check have a new argument: that we are not out of the woods yet and that more still needs to be done to revive the U.S. economy.
President Joe Biden has been pushing for congressional approval of the next two phases of his Build Back Better program, whose combined cost is $4 billion.
President Biden said Friday that there was “nothing measurable” in the report that was released this morning to back up suggestions that the additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits extended in his March pandemic relief bill were keeping people from returning to work.
April data showed an increase of 266,000 people resuming formal employment, short of the forecast of at least 1 million new jobs.
Some senators, including Marco Rubio, noted that a large number of businesses have been unable to hire more people because “the government is paying them not to go back to work,” so the Chamber of Commerce has called on the government to repeal the unemployment insurance supplemental benefit.
So far there is deep division in Congress over the government’s role in helping the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden said the report released Friday “is a refutation of the narrative that Americans just don’t want to work.” The data show “that more workers are looking for jobs and many are not finding them,” Biden said.
The White House argues that the $1.9 billion relief bill that was signed into law in March will help get schools back in session and provide child care assistance that will allow Americans, especially women, to return to work.
Progressive Democrats have called for greater actions such as recurring payments in addition to the $4 trillion in long-term economic programs that Biden has presented as a continuation of the bailout plan.
Also Friday, Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, warned from the White House that the jobs report should not be misinterpreted. Yellen said that one month of data should never be taken as proof of a downward trend, as employment can also undergo revisions down the road.
The labor secretary noted that the data is showing that more Americans are returning to the job search.