U.S. supplemental poverty rate among people under 18
The expected spike in poverty — particularly child poverty — between 2021 and 2022 shows the impact of letting major pandemic-era safety net program expansions expire, a policy experiment with no precedent in the U.S.
Why it matters: The pandemic programs were enacted as temporary measures. But their expiration still stings for the Americans who experienced an economic boost only to lose it — and there’s more to come.
Driving the news: Real median household incomes fell by 2.3% in 2022 and the poverty rate increased by 4.6 percentage points to 12.4%, according to data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Although more people had health insurance in 2022 than in 2021, this was almost certainly a fleeting phenomenon that has been undone by the unwinding of pandemic-era Medicaid policies.
Between the lines: The conventional wisdom used to be that Washington didn’t let benefit programs expire, not least because taking benefits away from people is politically unpopular.
What they’re saying: “The rise reported today in child poverty is no accident—it is the result of a deliberate policy choice congressional Republicans made to block help for families with children while advancing massive tax cuts for the wealthiest and largest corporations,” Biden said in a statement.
What we’re watching: Government relief programs have continued to expire this year, and more still are coming.