A new poverty estimate seeking to analyze the nationwide impact of government relief measures which expired just at the end of last month has found that the latter half of 2020 marked the sharpest rise in the US poverty rate since the 1960s. The study released Monday and presented in Bloomberg finds that the poverty rate increased by 2.4% during the second half of 2020, following last spring and early summer COVID-19 rolling lockdowns in various parts of the country.
This amounts to an additional 8 million Americans being considered newly poor, nearly double the highest annual increase in poverty in over a half-century.
The study authors - economists Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago, and James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame - further found that Black Americans were among the hardest hit, and more that twice as likely to fall below the poverty line as White Americans.
According to Bloomberg's summary of the results, "The researchers found that the stimulus checks the federal government issued in the spring helped forestall the poverty rate from rising even faster."
Bloomberg recalls further that "In late December, $900 billion in addition federal relief aid was passed, and President Joe Biden is asking Congress for an additional $1.9 trillion in stimulus."
The US trend of the past six months is also echoed more broadly in global data showing COVID-fueled poverty across much of the world.
As featured in a recent Oxfam study which also sought to assess the financial impact of the pandemic - up to 500 million people globally have been newly pushed into poverty, while at the same time the world's 10 richest men made a combined $540 billion over the same time frame.
Oxfam is calling it evidence of the "greatest rise in inequality since records began."