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Researchers Say Without Government Stimulus, Poverty Is Back On The Rise


Researchers say extra money from the U.S. government helped many people rise out of poverty, even during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. But now much of that stimulus is gone and poverty is rising again.

Economists at three universities, including Notre Dame, closely follow federal data on household income each month and update their findings online. They also published a paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research last month outlining their methods. 

They say the national poverty rate fell a little more than one percent between April and June thanks to stimulus checks and an extra $600 unemployment benefit. The positive effects were most prominent for workers who identified as neither White nor Black and those with no college education.

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But Jim Sullivan, Notre Dame professor and co-author of the study, said without the relief, poverty is rising again. He said politicians should take note as they discuss more coronavirus relief funding. 

“What we know right now is poverty is rising and is likely to do so if things don’t change,” he said. “That certainly should inform policymakers as they’re trying to make these decisions.” 

An annual report from the U.S. Census Bureau released Tuesday places the national poverty rate for 2019 at 10.5 percent, the lowest level ever recorded since it began measuring household income in 1959.

Contact reporter Justin at or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.