Chattanooga Times Free Press

8 mil­lion in U. S. have slipped into poverty since May

- BY JA­SON DEPARLE Unemployment · Poverty · College · Employment · Society · Health Conditions · Higher Education · United States of America · Washington · Columbia University · Columbia, MO · University of Chicago · University of Notre Dame · Colombia · Chicago · Republican Party (United States) · Donald Trump · Infectious Diseases

WASH­ING­TON — Af­ter an am­bi­tious ex­pan­sion of the safety net in the spring saved mil­lions of peo­ple from poverty, the aid is now largely ex­hausted, and poverty has re­turned to lev­els higher than be­fore the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, two new stud­ies have found.

The num­ber of poor peo­ple has grown by 8 mil­lion since May, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at Columbia Univer­sity, af­ter fall­ing by 4 mil­lion at the pan­demic’s start as a re­sult of a $2 tril­lion emer­gency pack­age known as the CARES Act.

Us­ing a dif­fer­ent def­i­ni­tion of poverty, re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Chicago and Notre Dame found that poverty has grown by 6 mil­lion peo­ple in the past three months, with cir­cum­stances wors­en­ing most for Black peo­ple and chil­dren.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the stud­ies dif­fer on the most re­cent month: While the Columbia model shows an im­prove­ment in Septem­ber, the Chicago and Notre Dame an­a­lysts found poverty con­tin­ued to grow.

“These num­bers are very con­cern­ing,” said Bruce D. Meyer, an econ­o­mist at the Univer­sity of Chicago and an au­thor of the study. “They tell us peo­ple are having a lot more trou­ble pay­ing their bills, pay­ing their rent, putting food on the ta­ble.”

The re­cent rise in poverty has oc­curred de­spite an im­prov­ing job mar­ket, an in­di­ca­tion that the econ­omy has been re­bound­ing too slowly to off­set the lost ben­e­fits. The Demo­cratic House has twice passed mul­ti­tril­lion-dol­lar pack­ages to pro­vide more help and to stim­u­late the econ­omy, but mem­bers of a di­vided Repub­li­can Se­nate, ques­tion­ing the cost and ne­ces­sity, have pro­posed smaller plans. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has al­ter­nately de­manded that Congress “go big” be­fore the elec­tions and can­celed ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The CARES Act in­cluded one­time pay­ments for most house­holds — $1,200 per adult and $500 per child — and a huge ex­pan­sion of un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance.

The aid ex­pan­sion did not reach ev­ery­one. About a third of the un­em­ployed still do not re­ceive un­em­ploy­ment checks, the Columbia an­a­lysts es­ti­mated. Some job­less peo­ple are un­aware they can ap­ply, and many en­counter red tape. Work­ers in the coun­try il­le­gally are dis­qual­i­fied from un­em­ploy­ment aid, and no one in their house­holds can get stim­u­lus checks, in­clud­ing spouses and mil­lions of Amer­i­can chil­dren.

By the gov­ern­ment’s fullest mea­sure, a fam­ily of four in a typ­i­cal city is con­sid­ered poor if its an­nual in­come falls be­low $28,170.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA