The talk of pandemic-related stimulus checks is back in the news cycle; that electricity is in the air again. While I’d love to tell you nothing but good news for your wallet, it’s going to be a little more complicated than that.
In this article, I’ll get into whether New Jersey residents should expect further financial help and detail the reasons for saying so.
Let’s see if there’s any money on the way for you or your employees.
No, the short answer is that New Jersey is not getting another stimulus check. This doesn’t mean that NJ residents will miss the boat entirely. Other states have begun to issue some form of targeted stimulus, setting a precedent for states’ economic responsibility to their citizens during this chapter of the pandemic.
Beyond that, there are targeted actions being taken at the federal level that indicate the era of pandemic relief hasn’t quite concluded, despite public statements from public officials suggesting that it has.
Some states have begun issuing their own stimulus checks independent of the IRS and federal government. The Biden Administration is also sending out one-time payments to workers in the meatpacking and farming industries. Finally, there is a growing petition to issue more stimulus checks that, while thus far ineffective, is attracting increased media attention.
These $600 payments from the Biden Administration to workers in two crucial industries to the American food supply are helpful but are mainly a gesture of thanks more than any sort of economic game-changer.
These payments won’t affect many New Jerseyians as meatpacking and agriculture are not substantial employers in the Garden State.
Similarly, a pilot program has been established that would give supplemental pay to grocery-store workers. Keep in mind, this pilot program is only $20 million, so the likelihood of New Jerseyians working in grocery stores getting any of these funds is small to nonexistent.
The Change.org petition for ongoing stimulus payments for the remainder of the pandemic nears 3 million signatures, and the Senior Citizens League is leaning on Congress to issue another $1,400 check to the 69 million Social Security Recipients.
While both requests are focused on a national level, many within New Jersey would benefit if such measures came to pass.
All these actions are stirring up the public conversation surrounding continued stimulus payments and putting elected officials’ feet back in the fire.
Several states are issuing one-time payments to those considered front-line workers or particularly in need. The focus usually surrounds teachers, first-responders, and the economically disadvantaged. Here are the specific measures being taken.
- $600 payment to ⅔ of residents
- $500 additional for each child
- Rental assistance for low-income renters and landlords
- $1,000 for first responders, teachers, and educators
- $500 bonus for teachers in Denton, TX
- $2,000 bonus for teachers in Irving, TX
- Various pay raises for teachers in different districts
- $1,000 retention bonus for teachers
- $500 bonus for teachers
- $250 bonus for school workers
- $1,000 bonus for teachers
- $750 check for low-income residents
Yes, there are absolutely reasons that New Jersey might issue another stimulus check. In addition to the stubbornly high unemployment when compared to the rest of the nation, the actions taken by other states will likely put pressure on Governor Murphy to take similar actions.
While unemployment is dropping in NJ, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it still has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the country. Recent action like Governor Murphy’s Return and Earn program is simply not enough to effectively change the financial situations of many thousands of people. More will likely have to be done before reasonable levels of recovery can be achieved.
There is an election right around the corner, and how close the race is might determine whether Murphy pushes for additional stimulus before or after the election.
Right now, the race is 50-41 for Gov. Murphy, but this has been tightening as time has passed. Should challenger Jack Ciattarelli get a few more points in the polls, you might see Murphy start discussing the need for greater relief for the middle class. He won’t want to lose votes over.
Should the Governor keep his comfortable lead, you’ll likely see nothing until after the election. At that point, he’ll have no political impetus to gift voters with any further relief, and any actions taken will be solely based on personal desire and economic merit. Unless, of course, he has aspirations for higher offices in DC, which is already being discussed.
I believe it’s likely that there will be further stimulus payments made to citizens after the election. Perhaps these payments will not be to everyone, but tailored payments to teachers, low-income families, first responders, grocery store workers, or some combination of these or similar groups. I see it unlikely that New Jersey suddenly shakes off its heavy unemployment and labor issues without further government intervention of some kind.
I personally do believe that Phil Murphy’s political career will continue after his second term as Governor. This creates a situation where he will want to leave his current position with voters’ goodwill and admiration.
This would help him if he sought one of NJ’s two Senate seats (due to Booker’s appointment to a cabinet position or to Menendez’s retirement) or if he tried to run for President or Vice President.
He’s going to have to continue to deliver as other states have; it’s just a matter of time when it happens.