Millions of Americans fall into poverty amid cutback of pandemic aid
Millions of American families, including children, descended into poverty in 2022 due to the waning government-funded pandemic aid and declining incomes.
Recently released data by the US Census Bureau shows that millions of American families fell into poverty in the wake of dwindling government-funded pandemic assistance and shrinking incomes with children hit the hardest, as their poverty rate doubled compared to the previous year.
The abrupt surge in poverty has been described as "stunning" by Sharon Parrott, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Parrott attributes this distressing increase in child poverty to the cessation of the expanded federal Child Tax Credit in 2022 and calls upon lawmakers to reinstate this critical benefit.
The ramifications of this rise in poverty are staggering, affecting an additional 15.3 million people across the United States who now find themselves living below the poverty line, according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities think tank.
This disconcerting trend highlights the paradox of the post-pandemic economy. On the one hand, it has seen a robust job market, while on the other, it has witnessed the relentless ascent of inflation, placing significant strain on many households.
The year 2022 also marked the cessation of all pandemic-related benefits that had provided crucial support to families during the health crisis, including stimulus checks and the Child Tax Credit, which had disbursed as much as $300 per child in direct payments.
The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a metric that gauges whether individuals have sufficient resources to cover their basic needs, revealed that 12.4% of US households fell below the poverty line in 2022. This marked a substantial increase of 4.6 percentage points from the previous year, according to the Census Bureau.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimated that renewing the expanded Child Tax Credit could have prevented about 3 million additional children from falling into poverty last year, reducing the child poverty rate to approximately 8.4%, instead of the alarming 12.4% reported by the Census Bureau.
In addition to the surge in poverty, US households also faced declining incomes in 2022, according to the Census data. The median household income for that year stood at $74,580, representing a 2.3% decline compared to 2021. This marked the third consecutive year of income decline.