Washington, D.C. – On September 12, the U.S. Census Bureau unveiled new data regarding the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a critical tool used to measure and track changes in poverty levels in the United States.

The new SPM data reveals a sizable increase in the poverty rate from 7.8% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022, an increase of nearly 60%. Meanwhile, the child poverty rate more than doubled. The analysis notes that Social Security continued to be the most important anti-poverty program in 2022, while the end of the 2021 expanded tax credits fueled the spike in poverty in 2022.

In response to the new SPM numbers, the Criminalization of Race and Poverty program at the Institute for Policy Studies issued the following comment: 

“The stark contrast paints a vivid picture of the ways in which poverty is a political choice, not a personal one,” explained Karen Dolan, director of the Criminalization of Race and Poverty program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

During the pandemic, many elected officials took action to respond to increases in evictions, food insecurity, medical costs, and unemployment numbers, in some cases enacting measures that experts and advocates had recommended for years to reduce poverty and inequality.

The bipartisan CARES Act in 2020 provided stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and loans and grants to small businesses. The American Rescue Plan in 2021 offered additional direct payments to households, additional assistance to small businesses, expanded access to affordable healthcare, expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, free COVID testing and vaccines, food, rental and education assistance, debt relief, prevention of foreclosure, and assistance with mortgage payments. It also provided state, and local funds to help struggling families, frontline workers, and teetering economies. It helped families of every race, ethnicity, and income status.

Most of these expanded supports expired by 2022, even though public support was overwhelmingly behind extending these supports through what the Biden Administration dubbed the Build Back Better plan, which also included critical infrastructure and green economy investments, lower prescription drug costs, subsidized health plans, paid family leave, free universal preschool, help with child care, higher ed, and student debt.

“Our elected officials need to build on investments in our families and small businesses instead of privileging corporate wealth,” says Dolan. “Unless we do, the number of everyday people facing inequality and hardship will continue to grow. We know what works to reduce poverty. Let’s do it.”

To speak with Karen Dolan for further comment or information, contact IPS Deputy Communications Director Olivia Alperstein at (202) 704-9011 or olivia@ips-dc.org.


About the Criminalization of Race and Poverty project at the Institute for Policy Studies

Criminalization of poverty and marginalized identities has long been a problem in the United States. Poor and low-income people, especially Black, immigrant, Indigenous, disabled, and LGBTQ people, face a far greater risk of being targeted, profiled, fined, arrested, harassed, violated, and incarcerated for minor offenses than other Americans.

By conducting research and reports on the various components of these injustices, and supporting movements on the ground, the Criminalization of Race and Poverty project at the Institute for Policy Studies aims to encourage and influence policy that will move us from intersectional injustice into intersectional justice.

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