The percentage of Americans living in poverty fell from an all-time high last year, with an additional 3.3 million people impoverished as Covid-19 restrictions wiped out more than a decade of economic gains.
An estimated 11.4% of Americans, or about 37.2 million people, lived below the poverty line in 2020, up from 10.5% the year before, the US Census Bureau said on Tuesday. Median household income fell 2.9% to $ 67,521 per year, marking the first statistically significant drop since 2011.
Poverty in the United States had trended downward for five consecutive years, including the first three years of President Donald Trump’s administration, and reached the lowest level in six decades of record keeping in 2019 But those gains were scrapped as states shut down businesses in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.
In just four weeks in March and April 2020, an estimated 26 million Americans lost their jobs, surpassing the 22 million jobs created since the 2007-2009 economic collapse. For all of last year, the number of full-time workers fell by about 13.7 million, the largest drop on record, the Census Bureau said.
The average poverty line in the United States for a family of four last year was an annual income of $ 26,496. An estimated 14.8% of U.S. families with children, or 5.6 million households, were food insecure in 2020, up from 13.6% the year before, according to the report.
However, the Census Bureau noted that when government aid was factored in – including Covid-19 stimulus checks and additional unemployment benefits – fewer Americans were actually living in poverty. The so-called supplementary poverty measure (MPS) fell to 9.1% in 2020 against 11.7% in 2019.
In fact, the economy was so dependent on government controls last year that the PMS was below the official poverty rate for the first time in history. The SPM also includes necessary expenses – such as taxes, health insurance premiums, and childcare costs – so it is normally higher than the standard poverty measure.
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With the federal government essentially paying millions of people to stay at home in 2020, the US national debt soared to $ 19.6 trillion. In other words, from the founding of the country until 2019, Washington accumulated $ 16.8 trillion in debt, but it only took a year to add an additional $ 2.8 trillion.
And now that extra unemployment benefits and stimulus checks are depleted, the U.S. economy remains below 5.3 million jobs from what it was before the pandemic began.
A decade after the enactment of Obamacare, 28 million Americans lacked health insurance coverage in 2020, the Census Bureau said. It is estimated that 91.4% of US residents were covered for at least part of the year.
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