COVID-19 Relief Spending Pushed Poverty To Record Low In 2021

by | Sep 13, 2022 | Politics

WASHINGTON — Poverty fell to a new low last year thanks to new federal spending passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to new federal data released Tuesday. Extra unemployment benefits, stimulus checks and a monthly child allowance helped push the poverty rate to 7.8% in 2021, according to an annual Census Bureau poverty measure that accounts for tax benefits and stimulus payments. The rate had been 9.1% in 2020. AdvertisementDemocrats included the various relief policies in a $1.9 trillion bill called the American Rescue Plan, which passed Congress on a party-line basis in March 2021. The bill represented Democrats’ vision of a more humane political economy that better supports parents and laid-off workers. The bill provided $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans, added $300 to weekly unemployment benefits, and gave parents as much as $300 per minor child each month from July through December. Parents joined a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 13, 2021, to urge Congress to extend the child tax credit.Alex Wong via Getty ImagesRepublicans pilloried the Rescue Plan as too much spending on an economy that was already improving, and they have blamed it for the record price inflation that has tanked consumer sentiment this year. AdvertisementEconomists have said that yes, the bill did contribute to inflation, though there’s an ongoing debate over how much prices would have risen anyway due to pandemic-related supply chain problems. The Census Bureau’s “official” poverty measure, which doesn’t factor expenses, omits key sources of income, and fails to account for geographical differences in costs such as rent, showed a slight increase last year from 11.4% to 11.6%, which officials said was not a sta …

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