Food insecurity rises among families with children, yet poverty rates decline at least initially

Two new papers presented at the Brooking Papers on Economic Activity (BPEA) conference investigate economic conditions during the pandemic. One paper, examining safety net programs, finds that food insecurity among households with children rose from 9.3 percent in February to 29.5 percent in late April-early May. This comes even as more families are accessing SNAP, in which enrollment had increased by almost 20 percent through May. Authors recommend longerterm increases to SNAP benefits to account for the current recession and increasing food prices. The second paper focuses on income and poverty rates during the pandemic, finding that estimated poverty has declined during the pandemic and that incomes have risen at all income levels. The poverty rate—based on the authors’ calculations since official poverty estimates are not yet available— decreased from an average of 10.9 percent in January and February to an average of 8.6 percent in April and May. Authors attribute this to federal interventions like expanding unemployment insurance and caution that poverty rates will need continued monitoring. #foodsecurity #workforce #covid-19

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