It also hits the United States: since May there are 8 million new poor

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After an ambitious extension of the safety net in the spring saved millions of Americans from poverty, aid has now largely been exhausted and poverty has returned to higher levels than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies in the United States reveal.

The number of poor people increased by 8 million since Mayaccording to Columbia University researchers, after falling 4 million at the start of the pandemic as a result of a $ 2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act.

Using a different definition of poverty, researchers at the University of Chicago and Notre Dame concluded that another 6 million people fell into poverty in the past three months, with an especially pronounced worsening for blacks and children.

Significantly, the studies differ from the most recent month: while Columbia’s model shows an improvement in September, analysts in Chicago and Notre Dame concluded that poverty continued to grow.

“These numbers are very worrying,” said Bruce D. Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago and one of the study’s authors. “They tell us that people are having much more trouble paying the bills, pay the rent, put food on the table ”.

The recent increase in poverty occurred despite the improvement in the labor market, an indication that the economy has been recovering with too slow to make up for lost benefits. The Democratic House of Representatives twice approved multi-trillion-dollar packages to provide more aid and stimulate the economy, but members of a divided Republican Senate, questioning costs and necessity, have proposed smaller plans. President Donald Trump alternately asked Congress to “take action in a big way” before the election and canceled the negotiations.

The Care Act includes one-time payments for most households $ 1,200 per adult and $ 500 per child– and a huge expansion of unemployment insurance.

This expansion at least doubled the percentage of unemployed workers who receive subsidies, the researchers calculated, by including workers who perform trades and the self-employed until December. Further, added $ 600 to weekly aid until the end of July, almost tripling the average profit. For about two-thirds of the beneficiaries, the enhanced subsidy more than replaced lost wages.

At its highest peak in May, the aid kept more than 18 million people from falling into poverty, the Columbia researchers found. But by September, that number had dropped to about 4 million.

“The Care Act was unusually successfulBut now it is gone and many more people are poor, ”said Zachary Parolin, one of the authors of the Columbia analysis.

Among those experiencing further hardship is Kristin Jeffcoat, 24, who is raising three children in Camptonville, California, a small town about 80 miles north of Sacramento. When schools closed last spring, Jeffcoat, an employee of a grocery delivery service, had to stay home to care for them. Then her husband was fired from his landscaping job.

The expanded safety net at first contained them: Together they received more than $ 1,500 a week in unemployment benefits, which was more than the wages they had lost. They also received a $ 3,900 stimulus check, which they used to prepay for three months of rent. But since the unemployment benefit expired in July, their cash income was down almost 80%.

Now Jeffcoat and her husband, who live on $ 350 a week plus food stamps, they have run out of electricity because they cannot afford the fuel for the generator (their house is not connected to the electricity grid) and they have spent weeks without propane for cooking and heating water for bathing. “We eat cold meals … cereals,” said the woman.

Jeffcoat said that, to feed his children, sometimes you have to skip meals, Especially at the end of the month when the food stamps have run out. Her husband sold his tools to buy diapers, and Jeffcoat tried to sell his eggs to a fertility clinic but did not meet the medical requirements. Worse than physical hardship is worry.

“I am definitely feeling a little more restless, more irritable with boys “Jeffcoat said.

Income volatility is especially harsh for low-income families, who lack the savings or credit necessary to pay essential bills. It acts as a kind of invisible tax, measured in units as varied as late payments, toxic stress, and poorer academic results for children. “Lack of predictability has all kinds of negative consequences“Said Bradley L. Hardy, an economist at American University, noting that fluctuations in earnings amplify twists in the economy.


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