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Covid Aid Programs Spur Record Drop in Poverty

  • July 28, 2021

Instead, her income rose above its prepandemic level, though she has not worked for a year. She received about $25,000 in unemployment benefits (about three times what she would have received before the pandemic) and $12,000 in stimulus checks. With increased food stamp benefits and other help, her income grew to $67,000 — almost 30 percent more than when she had a job.

“Without that help, I literally don’t know how I would have survived,” she said. “We would have been homeless.”

Still, Ms. Goodwin, 29, has mixed feelings about large payments with no stipulations.

“In my case, yes, it was very beneficial,” she said. But she said that other people she knew bought big TVs and her former boyfriend bought drugs. “All this free money enabled him to be a worse addict than he already was,” she said. “Why should taxpayers pay for that?”

The Urban Institute’s projections show poverty falling to 7.7 percent this year from 13.9 percent in 2018. That decline, 45 percent, is nearly three times the previous three-year record, according to historical estimates by researchers at Columbia University. The projected drop in child poverty, to 5.6 from 14.2 percent, amounts to a decline of 61 percent. That exceeds the previous 50 years combined, the Columbia figures show.

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