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Saturday September 25th, 2021 11:20PM

Census: Relief payments staved off hardship in COVID crash

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The share of Americans living in poverty rose slightly as the COVID-19 pandemic shook the economy last year, but massive relief payments pumped out by Congress eased hardship for many, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

The official poverty measure showed an increase of 1 percentage point in 2020, indicating that 11.4% of Americans were living in poverty. It was the first increase in poverty after five consecutive annual declines.

But a more complete supplemental measure of poverty, which takes into account income streams such as stimulus payments, actually showed that the share of people in poverty dipped after the aid was factored in.

The pandemic shutdown sent tremors through the economy last year. In April alone, more than 20 million workers lost their jobs. Unemployment offices paid out a weekly average of 20 million claims last year. The economy has rebounded since, but employment is still about 5 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

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