According to Census Bureau numbers released Tuesday, the government’s large-scale stimulus initiatives last year in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which included direct payouts to millions of Americans, helped elevate nearly 12 million people out of poverty.
The changes were highlighted in the bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey.
According to Census data, the official poverty rate in the United States grew one percentage point in 2020, to 11.4 percent, or 37.2 million people.
However, “supplemental poverty measures,” which include government programs that help low-income families and people with supports like child support and food stamps, are not included in the poverty figure.
Other sources of income included stimulus payments and other economic relief packages, such as the one authorized by Congress in reaction to COVID-19 in March 2020.
“In 2020, the overall [supplemental poverty measure] rate was 9.1%,” the report said. “This was 2.6 percentage points lower than the 2019 rate.”
The bureau said the rate last year was 2.3 points lower than the official poverty rate of 11.4%.
“This is the first time in the history of the SPM where poverty is lower using the SPM than the official poverty rate.”
The Census Bureau stated in its report that direct stimulus payments alone pulled 11.7 million Americans out of poverty.
It went on to say that Social Security played a crucial role, assisting 26.5 million people in the United States in 2020.
According to the analysis, the US poverty rate would have been close to 13% if the government’s relief efforts had not been made.
“There were 11 states plus the District of Columbia for which SPM rates were higher than official poverty rates, 30 states with lower rates, and nine states for which the differences were not statistically significant,” the bureau said.
Congress passed two direct stimulus payments to millions of Americans in 2020. The first in March was $1,200 for most recipients and the second in December was $600.