The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

New Census Data Shows Supplemental Poverty Rate Dropped from 11.8% to 9.1% from 2019-20 Due to Safety Net Boost

Government Food Aid & Cash Benefits Shown to Decrease Poverty & Hunger Despite Economic Crisis During Pandemic

"Latest Data Bolsters Proof that a Strong Social Safety Net Works to Lift Tens of Millions out of Poverty & Hunger"


The U.S. Census Bureau released new data today showing that the supplemental poverty rate fell from 11.8 percent to 9.1 percent from 2019 to 2020 despite the health and economic crises caused by Covid-19. This huge drop in poverty can be attributed to the federal government's boost to the social safety net including an increase to SNAP benefits and unemployment insurance in addition to stimulus payments and the creation of the Pandemic-EBT program to provide food aid to families with school-aged children.

Today's announcement provides further evidence that an expanded social safety net keeps tens of millions of people out of poverty and hunger. USDA released data last week showing that there was a 9-percent increase in food insecurity among Americans from 2019 to 2020 - a percentage that would have been much higher if the federal government had not stepped in and provided necessary assistance to families in need.

In response to these findings, Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a national direct service and advocacy nonprofit organization, said:

"The fact that the supplemental poverty rate dropped during the Covid-19 crisis is a huge victory for advocates of expanding the social safety net. Hunger Free America has long advocated for stronger federal benefits, and the latest data bolsters proof that a strong social safety net works to lift tens of millions out of poverty and hunger. Despite 38 million Americans still struggling with food insecurity in 2020, the expansion of SNAP benefits and unemployment insurance in addition to stimulus checks and the Pandemic-EBT program, kept tens of millions of Americans from falling into poverty. The federal government should continue to build upon this momentum by strengthening the social safety net in addition to raising the federal minimum wage so that working families can afford their basic living expenses."

Hunger Free America is a nonpartisan, national nonprofit group working to enact the policies and programs needed to end domestic hunger and ensure that all Americans have sufficient access to nutritious food.

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