Last year, child poverty in the United States saw its single largest one-year jump on record, more than doubling from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022, the Census Bureau said in its annual poverty report
, published on Tuesday.
The figure paralleled a general rise in poverty from 7.8% to 12.4% of the population over the same one-year period. That’s an increase of more than 15 million people, reaching a total of 41.2 million Americans in poverty.
The spike was in part seen in the largest one-year drop in inflation-adjusted annual median household income in 40 years, which fell by 2.3% to reach $74,580.
The year 2022 began with some of the highest inflation rates seen in 40 years and the rate continued to climb until mid-summer, when the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes began to take effect. Still, the Fed’s plan to slow inflation by slowing investment ignored what researchers said
was responsible for the majority of the price increases over the previous two years: corporate profiteering.
Those programs included direct cash payments, an expanded child tax credit that provided a guaranteed income to families with children; increased unemployment benefits; increased food benefit payments; a pause on federal student loan payments; rental assistance; and an outright moratorium on evictions
. Of those programs, only the federal student loan pause
has survived into 2023; however, payments are expected to resume in October.
US President Joe Biden has postured for the 2024 presidential campaign by claiming that “Bidenomics” has been a boon to working Americans over the last three years, but in September 2021, administration sources told US media
that Biden saw the expiration of the above protection programs as “appropriate."
At the time, Judy Conti, director of government affairs at the National Employment Law Project, told US media that their expiration was “the biggest benefits cliff in American history.”
Indeed, at the end of that month, Biden boasted of the “progress”
made in the US economy as the worst job growth of the year was reported, but the headline statistics about unemployment and wages were favorable.
“Higher frequency data released since 2022 strongly suggest that some of the 2022 income dynamics that Census is expected to report on Tuesday have improved substantially in 2023, as employment and labor supply have continued to reach new highs, inflation has fallen substantially, and real earnings have grown,” the White House said. “On the other hand, the increase in poverty is likely to persist absent congressional action to restore the enhanced Child Tax Credit (CTC), as President Biden has proposed.”