Residents of the Berkshires already might have seen $600 stimulus payments deposited into their bank accounts, and money might be on its way for others, since the federal government faces a Jan. 15 deadline to finish cutting checks to Americans.
The payments come as part of a $900 billion economic relief package signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had pushed to increase stimulus payments to $2,000, as millions of Americans struggle with joblessness and housing insecurity. But, to date, the $600 payments stand.
So, how far will $600 really get you in the Berkshires?
The monthly housing cost for renters hovers around $872 in the Berkshires, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates from the past five years. That means that a renter in the middle of the pack could expect the second stimulus payment to cover around 21 days of rent and utilities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a moderate-cost food plan for an adult man would come out to $300.10 per month. The stimulus check would feed him for nearly two months.
As any parent knows, paying for child care can be a huge household budget buster, even in normal times. Based on data from the nonprofit Child Care Aware, one stimulus payment would buy almost 16 days of center-based child care for an infant — if you can find it during the coronavirus pandemic, that is. Since parents get an extra $600 per dependent, a single parent’s check would cover just over a month of child care.
According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Berkshire County is $2.18. That means you could fill up a 2021 Subaru Forester about 16 times with your stimulus check.
Don’t have a car, or prefer to take public transportation? The stimulus check could get you four months' worth of unlimited rides by the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, at full fare.
While live sporting events largely are off the table for now, a single $600 stimulus check could, theoretically, get you three box seat season tickets to the Pittsfield Suns. It also would cover a season lawn pass to Tanglewood for six Berkshire residents.
An avid skier could get unlimited access to the slopes at Bousquet all season and still have $150 left in their pocket.