The number of people living in poverty in the U.S. has increased by 8 million since May, researchers from Columbia University have found, despite the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed earlier this year, The New York Times reports.
The researchers note that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act “was successful in offsetting potential increases in poverty” due to the widespread lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, “but was not successful in preventing a rise in deep poverty.”
The stimulus checks and unemployment benefits “lifted more than 18 million people out of poverty in April, but this number fell to around 4 million people in August and September after the expiration of the CARES Act’s $600 per week unemployment supplement.
“As a result, the monthly poverty rate in September was higher than rates during April or May, and also higher than pre-crisis levels. Given projections that high unemployment rates may persist throughout the next year, additional income transfers are likely necessary to blunt further increases in poverty.”
Other researchers from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame University found that poverty has increased by 6 million over the last three months and continued to grow in September, unlike the Columbia study, which found poverty levels improving last month. They also found that “the increase in poverty in recent months was more noticeable for blacks, children, and those with a high school education or less. The estimates also suggest that poverty rose more in states with less effective unemployment insurance systems.”
University of Chicago economist Bruce D. Meyer, one of the study’s authors, told the Times that “these numbers are very concerning. They tell us people are having a lot more trouble paying their bills, paying their rent, putting food on the table.”