On September 11, 2023, the United States Census Bureau released Poverty in the United States: 2022, the annual report that measures the economic wellbeing of households, families, and individuals in the United States. This report provides estimates of two measures of poverty: the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM); the SPM is a more accurate assessment of poverty because it considers the Child Tax Credit (CTC), other low-income tax credits, pandemic stimulus payments, and other benefits such as SNAP or housing assistance, all of which have significant impact on the financial status of individuals and families.
The new report shows a sharp increase in poverty for all age groups, from nearly 25.6 million people in poverty in 2021 to 40.9 million in 2022. It also shows a massive increase in child poverty, which rose by 5.15 million children over the previous year, increasing to 12.4 percent of all children. A major cause of the increase of child poverty is the expiration of the pandemic-era expansion of the CTC, which lifted almost 3.5 million children out of poverty in 2021. Although this expansion led to historic relief for children, Congress was unable to extend it beyond 2021.
There were significant racial disparities reported by the Census Bureau. According to the SPM, 9.1 percent of non-Hispanic Whites were poor in 2022, compared with 17.2 percent of Blacks and 19.3 percent of Hispanics (of any race). The percentage of Black children living in poverty rose, from 8.1 percent in 2021 to 17.8 percent in 2022; similarly, the increase for Hispanic/Latino children (may be of any race) rose from 8.4 percent to 19.5 percent. For non-Hispanic White children, the increase was from 2.7 percent to 7.2 percent; for Asian children, from 5.1 percent to 9.9 percent.
Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Poverty released two new resources about the Child Tax Credit last week in the wake of the Census Bureau’s report:
- What Child Poverty Would Have Looked Like in 2022 if an Expanded Child Tax Credit Had Still Been in Place
- Children Left Behind by the Child Tax Credit in 2022
On September 13th, Congressional champions of the Child Tax Credit Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) hosted a press conference urging Congress to restore the CTC, bringing attention to both the House and Senate bills that would expand the current benefit and would demonstrably reduce child poverty again.
Troubling enough on its own, the 2022 data does not capture the other pandemic aid that will be taken from families this year. Ther was a large reduction in SNAP benefits that took effect in March, and close to 6 million people have lost Medicaid coverage since states have been allowed to resume eligibility determinations. Child care stabilization funding runs out this month as well, which could further increase economic burdens on families.