8 million Americans slipped into poverty amid coronavirus pandemic, new study finds

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The number of Americans living in poverty has risen by 8 million since May, according to a Columbia University study, which found poverty rates to increase after coronavirus first aid ended without more.

Although the federal Cares Act, which gave Americans a one-time stimulus check of $ 1,200 and the unemployed an additional $ 600 per week, succeeded in offsetting rising poverty rates in the spring, the effects were short-lived. the researchers found in the published study. Thursday.

After aid declined in late summer, poverty rates, especially among minorities and children, rebounded, they said.

“The Cares Act, despite its flaws, was largely successful in preventing a sharp increase in poverty,” said Zach Parolin, postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University and one of the study’s authors.

The federal stimulus saved about 18 million Americans out of poverty in April, he said, but by September that number fell to 4 million.

A family of four earning $ 26,200 a year or less is considered to be living below the poverty line, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. The total number of people living in poverty in the United States is 55 million, including the 8 million who have joined their ranks since May, according to Columbia researchers.

The study comes as negotiations for a new coronavirus stimulus package have stalled and Americans continue to be without relief for the foreseeable future.

Columbia researchers tracked monthly poverty rates in the United States between February and September, or before and throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“We see that the monthly poverty rate fell from 15% to 16.7% from February to September 2020, even after taking into account the income transfers of the CARES law”, write the researchers. “The increase in monthly poverty rates has been particularly marked for blacks and Hispanics, as well as for children.”

The Columbia study findings are underscored by another recent study published by the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame, which found that in the past three months alone, 6 million Americans entered in poverty.

These researchers also found that poverty rates temporarily stabilized thanks to federal economic intervention, but are now getting worse, especially for certain groups.

What’s more, the Columbia study found that poverty levels improved somewhat last month, while the joint study said they were getting worse.

“The great thing is that for a time the unprecedented government expansion of UI and stimulus payments kept families out of poverty,” said Bruce D. Meyer, economist at the University. of Chicago and author of the joint study.

Negotiations between Senate Republicans and House Democrats for a new stimulus package remain at a standstill as Americans grapple with the fallout from the pandemic and millions of people remain unemployed.

“The job gains throughout the summer were not enough to offset the decrease in income support,” said Parolin of Columbia.

Both groups of researchers said that unless more relief is provided, the federal government runs the risk of more people falling into poverty.

“In this time of crisis, it is important that policymakers react as quickly as possible to meet the needs of those hardest hit by the pandemic,” the University of Chicago-Notre study researchers wrote. Lady.

The group will continue to monitor poverty in real time in an effort to “determine what additional support is needed” as the pandemic continues and government assistance persists, the researchers said.

“The high levels of poverty, food insecurity and hardship are likely to intensify in the absence of additional income support,” Parolin said.

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