US government aid helped reduce poverty in 2020, Census data shows

US government aid helped reduce poverty in 2020, Census data shows
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(Sept 14): Direct cash payments to households and generous unemployment benefits helped to keep millions of Americans out of poverty after the coronavirus pandemic severely disrupted the US economy and pushed people out of work, according to a government survey released on Tuesday.

The stimulus payments the Federal government sent out to most US households in the middle of the pandemic helped to lift 11.7 million people out of poverty last year, the US Census Bureau said. Support offered through jobless benefits, which were enhanced with federal funds, also helped as unemployment soared because of the crisis, the report showed.

"I think this really shows the importance of the social safety net,” said Liana Fox, chief of the Census Bureau's poverty statistics branch.

The poverty rate dropped to 9.1% in 2020 from 11.8% in 2019, according to a measure that takes into account government support offered through programs such as food assistance and the stimulus checks.

In contrast, the official US poverty rate, which does not include the stimulus checks or some other government programs, rose to 11.4% from 10.5% in 2019, the first increase after five years of declines.