WASHINGTON – The number of Americans living in poverty globally declined during the Covid pandemic due to massive stimulus measures passed by Congress at the start of the crisis, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday.
The official poverty rate rose slightly in 2020 to 11.4%, from a record 10.5% in 2019, according to the U.S. census, but that figure mainly reflects cash payments to Americans. After taking into account all government assistance payments, the census supplemental poverty measure showed a drop from 11.8% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2020.
Stimulus payments last year provided cash payments of $ 1,200 to most low- and middle-income Americans, lifting 11.7 million people out of poverty, according to the US census. In addition, 5.5 million people have been prevented from falling into poverty thanks to the increase in unemployment insurance assistance. The poverty line is defined as income of less than $ 26,200 per year for a family of four.
Median household income fell 2.9% to about $ 67,500 from 2019 to 2020. But over the same period, the real median earnings of full-time, full-year workers increased by 6.9 %. The census indicates that incomes have increased because the decline in the number of full-time, full-year workers has been concentrated among low-income people and low-wage industries. This decrease was greatest in food service occupations, such as bartenders, waiters, waitresses and cooks.
Separately, the census reported that in 2020 the poverty rate increased for white and non-Hispanic non-Hispanic populations, to 8.2% and 17%, respectively. The black population had the highest poverty rate of 19.5%, but did not experience a significant change from 2019.
Congress is working to enact more programs to help Americans still reeling from the pandemic. The Senate returned on Monday after a month-long hiatus from a busy schedule that includes work to keep government open and raise the debt ceiling, as well as passing a social sum of $ 3.5 trillion for extend the social safety net and increase taxes on high incomes. Lawmakers also plan to give final passage to a $ 550 billion infrastructure bill.