Poverty Has Skyrocketed Since UI Benefits Ran Out

On average, the economy might be in reasonably good shape right now. But averages can hide a lot. For example, here is the number of people living in poverty:

Before the pandemic, poverty was steadily declining, as you’d expect during an economic expansion. Then the pandemic hit, but thanks to the CARES Act poverty actually spiked downward to about 30 million people.

But since June, when the stimulus benefits ran out, poverty has grown and grown. It’s up by about 8 million people since its low point in June, and by about 5 million people compared to a trendline of where it would likely be if the economy had continued to expand. Either way, that’s a lot of people living in poverty who don’t have to be. Hopefully the bonus unemployment benefits in the relief bill currently being debated will get that number back down at the start of 2021.

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