Elections in the United States: Poverty plagues the middle class amid the coronavirus pandemic

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A study by the University of Colombia showed that poverty began to rise as the effects of the trillions of dollars injected to prop up the economy when the virus broke out fade.

As the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States, Keith managed to keep his financial services job, but his income ran out as the commissions he charged began to drop.

Financially strangled, Keith began to depend on the food distributed by a charity in Bethesda, a Washington suburb characterized by wealth that this 52-year-old now lacks.

“We try to save what we can,” Keith tells AFP on condition of not being identified. “I don’t want more than I need. If I don’t have to come every week, I won’t, “he adds.

Tens of millions of Americans were unemployed due to the blow inflicted by the covid-19 pandemic on the world’s largest economy.

A week before Tuesday’s elections, a study by the University of Colombia showed that poverty began to increase in the United States as the effects of the trillions of dollars injected to prop up the economy when the coronavirus broke out fade.

It remains to be seen if the economic damage will prevent the re-election of Republican President Donald Trump at the hands of Democrat Joe Biden. But certainly, America’s middle class is in danger.

“Is it’s the first time I’ve come to order food because I have no other choice, “says Joe, 40, after collecting food from the Bethesda charity. Joe lost his job in April.

Located north of the American capital, Montgomery County, in the state of Maryland, is one of the richest areas in the country but even in towns like Bethesda there are huge gaps in wealth.

Anne Derse, a deacon at Saint George’s Episcopal Church, runs a free food delivery program. Says there some 65,000 people were food insecure before the pandemic. Now, it’s 95,000.

“As long as economic conditions do not improve, the amount will continue to grow,” he says.

People serving volunteers receive almost twice as many people as expected and often food they sell out in less than an hour.

“Many people are really in need now. One of them said: ‘I never thought I was going to have to do this. But it’s the impact of the global pandemic, ‘”says Derse.

At the Capital Area Food Bank, an entity that serves the needy in much of Washington and its suburbs, its president, Radha Muthiah, said that before the pandemic the number of people they helped was 400,000, but currently they are 650,000.

Demand rose much higher in Montgomery and Fairfax counties, two areas normally considered prosperous but where, says Muthiah, the wave of unemployment raised the number of people in need of food.

“Many of the callers tell us that they never had to ask for food because they had a salary, or someone in their family did, but now they have lost their wages or work fewer hours,” he says.

As the pandemic worsened, Congress approved economic aid measures for 3 trillion dollars to mitigate its impact. That included extending unemployment benefits and small business loans and guarantees to save jobs.

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