COVID-19 Will Probably Cause Poverty to Decrease

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Jason DeParle reports on a study that says the COVID-19 pandemic will cause poverty in America to increase sharply:

If quarterly unemployment hits 30 percent — as the president of one Federal Reserve Bank predicts — 15.4 percent of Americans will fall into poverty for the year, the Columbia researchers found, even in the unlikely event the economy instantly recovers. That level of poverty would exceed the peak of the Great Recession and add nearly 10 million people to the ranks of the poor.

Wait. This doesn’t make sense. If you stay employed throughout the pandemic, then you won’t fall into poverty. If you’re laid off or furloughed, then you apply for unemployment benefits. Thanks to the coronavirus rescue bill, those benefits are higher than your normal pay for anyone with a low income. It’s quite possible, in fact, that poverty will decrease thanks to the CARES Act. So why does—

There are significant caveats. Most important, the model does not yet include the potentially large anti-poverty effect of the Cares Act, the emergency legislation last month that provides about $560 billion in direct relief to individuals and even greater sums to sustain businesses and jobs.

Oh for chrissake. What’s the point in writing something so wildly misleading? The CARES Act was passed more than two weeks ago. That’s plenty of time to incorporate it into models of poverty. Why waste time on alarmist nonsense based on a fantasy world that doesn’t exist?

I understand that state unemployment agencies are overwhelmed right now, which means that unemployment benefits are slow to get approved. That’s a legitimate problem. But eventually things will settle down, and when they do people are going to discover that in addition to their $1,200 checks, they’re also getting a substantial upward bump in pay while they’re unemployed. For some reason, though, the nation’s press corps is oddly reluctant to write about this. I don’t get it.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate