New poverty data show the safety net warded off hardship before the American Rescue Plan became law

The Census Bureau recently released data showing that rates of food hardship held steady last year at record-low levels reached in 2019, and the percentage of people experiencing poverty declined, even as the pandemic emergency rocked the US economy. This unexpected positive news is largely attributable to the large safety net in the US that mitigated hardship as Congress enacted crucial economic relief efforts in response to the pandemic. Data from AEI’s Employment and Safety Net Survey explain how the employment situation improved for working-age adult households in 2020 and how the safety net responded to economic hardship. Overall, by February 2021 the employment situation among working-age adults had improved from earlier in the pandemic and working-age adults expressed fewer hardships. Not counting the economic impact payments that went to almost all US households, one in four working-age adults reported receiving some government help in July 2020 and in February 2021. One underappreciated aspect is that, on top of government aid, a private safety net comprised of families, friends, and churches helped nearly as many Americans. Despite the significant improvements made by early 2021, President Biden and Congress still passed the American Rescue Plan Act, adding billions more in spending to address pandemic-related hardship.

You can view an infographic storyboard of these results from AEI’s Employment and Safety Net Survey here:

National News Tags:, , , , , ,