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By Julia Glum
February 9, 2021
Two-Thirds of Americans Say They Need Another Stimulus Check
Money; Getty Images

Need a third stimulus check to make ends meet? You’re not alone.

According to a new survey from Money and Morning Consult, 68% of adults say they require another government stimulus payment in order to get by, with 39% confessing they need additional relief “a lot.” Roughly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the data confirms that Americans are still struggling financially — and they’re looking to Congress for cash.

The situation is dire across demographics. While it may seem obvious that 91% of respondents who got laid off or lost their job since last February want another stimulus, it’s notable that so do 76% of people who increased their work hours since then. Some 82% of people who started a new job since February 2020 also admit they need another stimulus check.

As President Joe Biden and members of Congress continue to debate whether to approve a third round of stimulus payments, Money and Morning Consult polled 2,200 people to get their input.

Here’s what we found out.

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The third stimulus check amount needs to be big

None of this $600 nonsense — Americans want to see a significant stimulus. Reached between Jan. 26 and Jan. 28, 77% of respondents say they need the next stimulus check to be more than $1,000. Some 36% of people say they require more than $2,000.

That price point is exactly what lawmakers are arguing over. In March 2020, the government approved Economic Impact Payments in the amount of $1,200 per person, plus $500 per dependent. In December 2020, Congress OK’d a second round for just $600 per person, plus $600 per dependent.

That brings us to 2021. Before his inauguration, Biden vowed to push through $2,000 stimulus checks, but in recent weeks, he’s clarified his approach. His $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan calls for $1,400 payments, which when combined with December’s $600 add up to $2,000.

(Some politicians, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have called Biden’s remarks disingenuous. She and others have also proposed recurring monthly checks.)

Biden said Friday he’s firm on the $1,400 amount, adding, “I’m not cutting the size of the checks. They’re going to be $1,400. Period. That’s what the American people were promised.”

The third stimulus check may be more targeted based on income level. College students’ eligibility is also a hot topic, as they were left out of the first two rounds of stimulus checks. The Money-Morning Consult survey shows people in school really need financial help: 67% of students say they require a stimulus of over $1,000. Of them, 44% want a stimulus that’s more than $2,000.

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People already spent their previous stimulus checks… if they got them

The first checks are long gone, and Americans have put their second payments to good use. Over a third of people (35%) spent their 2021 stimulus check on necessities, while 27% say they paid off debt. Another quarter (23%) saved or invested the money.

For most, blowing the second stimulus check on a silly splurge was not an option. Only 6% of people did that, and just 4% donated it to charity.

If passed, future Economic Impact Payments are also likely to go largely toward essentials. Money and Morning Consult found that half of adults (48%) would use the money to buy necessities. Other popular uses for subsequent stimulus checks include getting rid of debt (40%) and saving/investing (35%). One in 10 respondents (9%) say they’d buy something nice or fun.

An important caveat here is that not everyone actually got a second stimulus check. Though the IRS said in a January update that “over 100 million EIPs have been direct deposited into eligible recipients’ accounts,” the poll found that 23% of adults didn’t get them.

The largest group without stimulus checks was Gen Zers, or people born between 1997 and 2012. Just under half (46%) of this cohort didn’t receive a 2021 payment. This isn’t hugely surprising, as dependents under age 17 were generally not eligible to get their own checks.

The good news is that if you’re not in that group, help is on the way. If you were eligible for stimulus money but didn’t get it, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2021 taxes. The IRS will run the numbers and either increase your refund or decrease your tax bill based on how much cash you qualify for.

As Americans cross their fingers for a third stimulus check, that’s something to look forward to.

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