US poverty is still high, but stimulus is stopping it from getting worse

Author: Leigh Lynes

Poverty has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, but it would have been even worse without successive federal relief packages last year.

The $600 stimulus checks and $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits contained in Congress' December assistance package stemmed the rise in poverty in the second half of last year, according to researchers at the University of Chicago, University of Notre Dame and Zhejiang University.

In February, the poverty rate was 11.2%, down from 11.6% in November, the trio found.

Still, the poverty rate remains higher than it was prior to the pandemic and immediately after the $2 trillion relief deal that lawmakers passed a year ago, which included $1,200 stimulus payments and a historic expansion of unemployment benefits, including a $600 weekly federal enhancement for four months.

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