New census data show government relief made millions of children more stable and secure in 2021
Posted September 13, 2022 in Press Releases
Today, the Census Bureau released data from the Current Population Survey, which provides data on income, poverty, health insurance coverage, and the well-being of people nationwide. Today’s data release covers 2021, the second year of the pandemic.
The data show a child poverty rate of 4.5%, the lowest child poverty rate on record. The data show that the economic security and well-being of children and families improved in 2021, due largely to federal programs such as the child tax credit, unemployment insurance, food assistance (including SNAP emergency allotments, school lunch, and Pandemic EBT), and health care assistance (including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program). In all, government interventions lifted 45.4 million people out of poverty in 2021.
The following comments can be attributed to Policy Matters Ohio Researcher Will Petrik:
“Whatever our race or background, or wherever we live, most of us want the same things for ourselves and our family: peace of mind that we can put food on the table and see a doctor when we need to. New data released by the Census Bureau today show that federal COVID relief helped people keep food on the table, get the health care they need, and maintain basic stability if they got laid off during the pandemic.
“Public spending to improve the health and well-being of children and keep them out of poverty is common sense. These data show that when the government uses our public resources to provide stability and security for children and families, it makes a difference.
“However, because most members of the Senate refused to make them permanent, the tax credit expansions for children and families were only temporary, and the improvements in the lives of children will disappear in the coming years if lawmakers don’t take action. We must come together to sustain these improvements in the quality of life of kids and families by expanding support for children and families in the next Ohio budget and by making the federal expanded, refundable child tax credit permanent.”
Top-line state and national findings include:
Child poverty decreased in 2021: The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) child poverty rate fell 46% from 9.7% in 2020 to 5.2% in 2021, a 4.5 percentage-point decline. This is the lowest SPM child poverty rate on record.
In 2021, SPM child poverty rates fell for non-Hispanic white (2.7%), Black (8.1%) and Hispanic (8.4%) children, all reaching their lowest rates on record.
Poverty increased for older adults: The SPM rate for adults 65 and older increased from 9.5% in 2020 to 10.7% in 2021.
Median household income in 2021 is not statistically different than 2020: Real median household income was $70,784 in 2021, not statistically different from the 2020 estimate of $71,186.
More people worked full time in 2021: Between 2020 and 2021, the change in the number of total workers was not statistically significant; however, there was an increase of about 11.1 million full-time, year-round workers (from approximately 106.3 million to 117.4 million), suggesting a shift from part-time or part-year work in 2020 to full-time, year-round work in 2021.
Fewer Americans were uninsured in 2021 than in 2020: The uninsured rate decreased by an estimated 1.1 million people. An estimated 8.3% of the population nationwide, or roughly 27.2 million people, did not have health insurance coverage at any time during 2021.
The number of Ohioans enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP increased: Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment increased by 562,672 people, from 2.61 million in December 2019 to 3.17 million in December 2021 in Ohio.
The state of Ohio has not recently redetermined eligibility for people who participate in the Medicaid program. The state will go through this process after the end of the federal public health emergency. It is critical that officials take care to ensure Ohioans aren’t pushed off indiscriminately when that happens.
Finally, the end of federal relief has already increased insecurity in 2022. More recent figures from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse survey are based on data collected between July 27 and August 8, 2022:
- An estimated 3 million Ohio adults, including 1.2 million adults who have children in their household, had difficulty covering usual household expenses, such as groceries, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, and student loans.
- An estimated 762,000 Ohio adults reported that they “sometimes” or “often” did not have enough to eat in the last week.
Thus, despite the national gains last year, many Ohioans still have trouble meeting basic needs. More detailed Census data on Ohio and other states will be available later thi