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Stimulus check update: A fourth payment would be critical for many, study says

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Stimulus check update: A fourth payment would be critical for many, study says

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(NEXSTAR) – As the U.S. confronts rising inflation, slower job gains and a crippled supply chain, a new study finds that the Americans most in need of a stimulus check at the beginning of the pandemic continue to suffer most.

The three rounds of stimulus checks spanning two presidencies were critical to lower earners, researchers with the Capital One Insights Center found, but didn’t go far enough.

The study started in spring of 2020, with the authors administering surveys to a nationally representative group of Americans every four to eight months to learn more about the virus’ impact, from how they used their stimulus checks to their view of the U.S. economic recovery.

The respondents fell into three annual income groups – less than $25,000, $25,000 – $100,000 and over $100,000. Lower earners were much more likely than other groups to have spent the final stimulus payment on bills, the study found.

Part of the reason for that, researchers said, was the lack of recovery for the nation’s poorest.

A lopsided recovery

The study found that while job and income loss was devastating during the spring 2020 wave of COVID-19 in the U.S., how Americans faired in the year since varied greatly depending on several factors.

During that spring, 32%-36% reported income loss – a number that hasn’t changed much for the lower third of earners. For the other two groups, however, the study found that only half of respondents were still reporting income loss. Underemployment was also 12% more likely among Black and Hispanic/Latinx workers than white workers.

Economic insecurity was also a common theme among middle earners, however. The study found that debt levels were higher for one in five respondents in spring of 2021 than before the pandemic.

In 2020, real incomes and the number of full-time workers were already tumbling.

According to U.S. Census findings, the median household income in the U.S. went down by 2.9% from $69,560 in 2019 to $67,521 in 2020, the first time it had significantly dropped since 2011. The real median earnings fell 1.2% from $42,065 to $41,535, as did the number of full-time workers, which fell by 13.7 million.

Calls for fourth stimulus check

For many Americans, finding the money for looming mortgage, credit card and utility bills is a monthly cycle of anxiety. The study found that in April of 2021, 46% of lower earners said they would have come up short in paying their expenses without the stimulus money.

After the third stimulus check – the $1,400 payment under the American Rescue Plan – that balancing act became tougher for many lower earners. Nearly a third of low earner reported in August 2021 that they had to borrow money from friends and family to take care of their bills.

The cost of childcare compounded the struggle to pay bills for many, with 50% of lower earners and 30% of middle earners saying in August that they were either forced to cut back on working to take care of children or give up their jobs entirely. This is compared to 18% of higher earners.

While it seems unlikely that Congress will approve a fourth round of stimulus checks – as Republicans and Democrats spar over funding the government and the Biden administration’s now-$2 trillion spending package to improve social services and fight climate change – Capital One Insight Center researchers aren’t the only ones calling the stimulus payments critical to the U.S. recovery.

In September, nonpartisan advocacy group The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) warned that the cost of goods and services is rising for people with fixed incomes, months before next year’s federal cost-of-living bump.

Government economic experts estimated recent increases in inflation mean the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022 will approach 6%, a whopping jump from the 1.3% COLA awarded for this year.

Now, The Senior Citizens League is mounting a campaign to urge Congress to pass a fourth round of stimulus checks that would send $1,400 payments to Social Security recipients only.

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The 10 best jazz albums of 2021

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The 10 best jazz albums of 2021

December means “best of” list time. And here’s the list I think about putting together all year long.

My criteria are pretty simple: What albums, out of the hundreds that come my way every 12 months, am I liable to put on again and again? What surprises me every time I hit play? What invention and beauty sets one piano trio date, say, apart from the others?

It’s been a remarkable year for new music, and emerging old music was well represented in 2021, too. Here’s my top ten, followed by some terrific excavations. I hope you’ll dig in.

James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet — “Jesup Wagon” (Tao Forms)

The emerging tenor saxophonist and composer leads a thrilling band, featuring cornetist Kirk Knuffke. Lewis has his free jazz history down, and at times he sounds like Albert Ayler might in the 21st century.

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Lewis & Clark Community College partially reopens after cyberattack

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Lewis & Clark Community College partially reopens after cyberattack

GODFREY, Ill. – Lewis & Clark Community College is reopening its campus Monday to team members only.

The school shut down just weeks before finals due to a ransomware attack on November 23. The school was forced to shut down everything from its phones to the website’s home page.

Student activities and events will all return to a normal schedule starting Tuesday morning.

All classes, campus events, program events, and athletic events were canceled last week as the college’s IT department worked to resolve the matter.

Students were told they will not suffer any academic penalty for this disruption.

Due to the attack, all of the electronic systems on campus were taken offline to prevent further problems. It’s not been made clear how the attack occurred.

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Kiszla vs. O’Halloran: Did Broncos throw too much money at receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick?

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Kiszla vs. O’Halloran: Did Broncos throw too much money at receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick?

Kiz: Broncos general manager George Paton recently spent more than $95 million, including in excess of $50 million guaranteed, in new deals for receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. During an embarrassing 22-9 loss to Kansas City, however, Sutton and Patrick produced only three receptions for a grand total of 24 yards after being targeted 11 times by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Did Paton throw good money down the drain?

O’Halloran: Handing out receiver contracts days apart remains an interesting development, particularly because Jerry Jeudy is making plays befitting a No. 1 target. But two games is too small of a sample size to serve as a judgment on the deals because Paton is playing the long game, trying to keep (and then gather) assets that make the Broncos attractive to a veteran quarterback next March. But the numbers also don’t fib — Sutton and Patrick should be more involved. In the last four games, Sutton has nine catches and Patrick 13.

Kiz: The Denver offense definitely isn’t explosive and often isn’t efficient. Should we place all the blame at the feet of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Bridgewater? Or is it fair to wonder that outside of rookie running back Javonte Williams and 2020 first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos’ simply don’t have enough playmakers? Patrick can help you move the sticks on third down. But is either he or Sutton a true big-play threat?

O’Halloran: Much of the criticism should be directed at the play-caller (Pat) and trigger man (Teddy), which you correctly took to task after the Chiefs’ 12th consecutive win over the Broncos. Where is the originality? Where is the smart-but-aggressive chances? Where is the downfield accuracy? The Broncos called an early shot to Patrick, but Bridgewater overthrew him. They threw a pass to Sutton down the right sideline, but he couldn’t break free of coverage. And they went deep to Sutton, but the pass wasn’t anywhere close to being accurate. In the biggest game of the year, the Broncos were particularly short-handed at quarterback.

Kiz: I understand the logic behind the new deal for Patrick. He’s a football warrior. While Sutton is a solid teammate and stand-up guy, he doesn’t strike me as either a true No. 1 receiver or a target who will make it any more likely for Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers to dream of playing quarterback for the Broncos in 2022. While I firmly believe Paton has shown what it takes to be the GM who returns this team to an elite level, I also think he showed too much love to Sutton.

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