The Census Bureau has released its annual report, showing that childhood poverty more than doubled this past year. Its findings reveal an almost 140 percent increase in a single year. Five million new American children now live in poverty.
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, who has focused on legislation to lift children out of poverty, released the following statement:
“The United States is the wealthiest country in the world, and we have failed our most vulnerable children. Ninety percent of Colorado kids felt what it was like to have enough food on the table, bikes to ride, and school supplies in their backpacks because of the expanded Child Tax Credit.
“Congress plunged five million new kids into poverty when we refused to extend the Child Tax Credit for American families. These tax cuts were a lifeline to working people and we must restore the Child Tax Credit and make it permanent.”
The U.S. Census Bureau report announced that real median household income in 2022 fell in comparison to 2021.
While the official poverty rate of 11.5 percent was not statistically different between 2021 and 2022, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate in 2022 was 12.4 percent. This was an increase of 4.6 percentage points from 2021. This is the first increase in the overall SPM poverty rate since 2010.
But there was a glimmer of good news among U.S. families on health insurance coverage, which rose to 92.1 percent of the U.S. population covered by health insurance for all or part of 2022. In 2021 that rate was 91.7 percent.
But, according to the 2023 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC), that still means an estimated 25.9 million or 7.9 percent of people did not have health insurance at any point during 2022, even though the United States has made a concerted effort since the passage of what has become known as “Obamacare” was introduced. That compares to 27.2 million or 8.3 percent of people who did not have health insurance at any point during 2021.
Real median household income fell by 2.3 percent from $76,330 in 2021 to $74,580 in 2022. Income estimates are expressed in real or 2022 dollars to reflect changes in the cost of living. Between 2021 and 2022, inflation rose 7.8 percent; this is the largest annual increase in the cost-of-living adjustment since 1981.
Why the fall in income? Well one of the reasons is that the temporary (one-year) Child Tax Credit that Bennet worked so hard to get passed during the COVID-19 pandemic has ended and has not been renewed.
Bennet has long led the fight to eliminate child poverty, tirelessly advocating for expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC). In 2021, Bennet worked with the Biden Administration to enact a one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit – based on his American Family Act. It was a key component of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law.
As Bennet has explained, the results of the program were enormously successful. The 2021 Child Tax Credit expansion cut child poverty nearly in half and resulted in a 25 percent reduction in hunger for families. It also benefited 90 percent of Colorado children, helping lift nearly 3 million children out of poverty nationwide.
The legislation expired when the Republican-controlled House and the barely Democrat-controlled Senate refused to renew it; a move that combined with rising inflation continues to impact American families.