New census data shows that pandemic safety net programs have kept millions out of poverty in 2021

There should be no pandemic to realize that poverty is a public policy choice.

Public investments in safety net programs remain highly effective poverty reduction tools, as recent census income data shows. Government social programs kept tens of millions of people out of poverty in 2021. Due to expansions in programs such as unemployment insurance benefits and the child tax credit, poverty rates were actually lower in 2021 than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poverty reduction achieved through expanded social insurance programs highlights the extent to which policy makers’ choices impact poverty.

Unfortunately, some of the program expansions enacted in this pandemic have already been reversed, and cuts to programs like unemployment benefits and the child tax credit will only increase the economic hardship of families in the future.

Last year, Social Security had the biggest impact in the fight against poverty, reducing the number of people living in poverty by 26 million. Recent policy expansions, including refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), and Economic Impact Stimulus Payments, have also reduced the number of people living in poverty by between 10 and 9 million people. Straight.

Without government programs, millions more would be in poverty: Number of people in poverty, according to the supplementary poverty scale, and the additional number who would be in poverty without a specific government program, by age group, 2021

under 18 years old 18 to 64 years 65 years and over the total
number of poor 3,829,000 15,752,000 6,003,000 0
social Security 1,065,000 7183000 18,091,000 0
Refundable tax credits 4,893,000 4,536,000 206000 1
Economic Impact / Stimulus 2,270,000 4,939,000 1,690,000 2
tax credits for children 2,919,000 2,315,000 108000 3
SNAP/School Lunch 1,188,000 1,883,000 343000 4
State Security Investigation 288000 1,874,000 585000 5
housing support 595000 1200000 616000 6
unemployment insurance 525000 1,569,000 198000 7
TANF / General Assistance 109,000 161000 15000 8
energy help 32000 77000 41000 9
workers compensation 11000 117000 10000 10
WIC 39,000 41000 0 11
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