Stimulus Payments, Other Programs Kept Millions of People Out of Poverty in 2020

A set of three reports from the United States Census Bureau—Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2020, and The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2020—examine trends in household income and the important effects of social welfare programs in 2020. Median household income fell from $69,560 in 2019 to $67,521 in 2020. Using the official poverty rate, the number of people in poverty increased by 3.3 million, representing a one percentage point increase to a rate of 11.4%. At the same time, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which incorporates post-tax transfers and government programs that assist low-income families, fell: the poverty rate for 2020 using the SPM was 9.1%, 2.6 percentage points lower than in 2019. This divergence reflects the extent to which stimulus payments, Social Security, refundable tax credits, housing subsidies, and other federal aid succeeded at keeping millions of people out of poverty.

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