Census: Pandemic stimulus checks helped millions
The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that government aid raised 11.7 million Americans above the poverty line in 2020. Unemployment benefits, tax credits, and Social Security also prevented over 30 million from falling below the line. In 2020, 37.2 million people were living in poverty, up 3.3 million from 2019. It was the first increase in five years of declining rates. Median household income also dropped by 2.9 percent in 2020.
Does this mean the economy is recovering? Not exactly. The Labor Department also released a report on Tuesday showing inflation still on the rise, but at a slower rate than previous months. The consumer price index rose by 0.3 percent. Vehicle, hotel, and airfare costs came down slightly in August, but new car prices continued to climb. Gas prices also rose 2.8 percent from July’s rates. Now that unemployment benefit programs and stimulus checks have ended, more Americans will have to go back to work to balance out supply bottlenecks and keep poverty rates from rising. Although employers continue to add jobs, there are still 5.3 million fewer openings than before the pandemic.
Dig deeper: Read Sophia Lee’s coverage of Hope Awards winners in the fight against poverty.
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