Researchers from Zhejiang University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Notre Dame have been tracking US poverty rates.
In March 2021, poverty levels since the beginning of the pandemic reached a new high. The last high for poverty levels was in November 2020, when 8 million Americans were listed as poor over a six-month period. These levels fell when individuals received stimulus checks in December and January.
"It's really been a bit of a rollercoaster for poverty — not surprisingly, because we've had policy that's been a roller coaster," said University of Chicago economist Bruce Meyer. However, the roller coaster hasn't returned to the station as poverty levels surged in March.
"The groups that experienced the sharpest rise in poverty include children, whites, women, those with low education, and those in states that have historically paid unemployment insurance to a small share of the unemployed," the report said.
It's important to note that these numbers do not reflect the impact of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was signed on March 11. This plan should theoretically reduce poverty levels from March highs. However, the rollercoaster could trend up in the near future if pandemic conditions worsen.