• Jade' Curtis

Poverty Pervades during Pandemic

Does anyone honestly know whether the poverty rate in the U.S. has increased or decreased? According to many news sources, poverty has increased while others state that the poverty rate has declined. Something to also consider in addition to this question is how COVID-19 has affected the poverty rate.

The pandemic has left many people without jobs, which in turn forced them out of their homes due to unpaid bills. Some people received stimulus checks that allowed them to pay their rent, but the opportunity cost of having shelter caused many to go without other necessities. These stimulus checks aimed to stimulate the economy, but people used them to survive in circumstances that they should not have experienced. There were even instances of landlords evicting their tenants during eviction freezes.

Some of the experiences had by people during the height of the pandemic are outrageous. Many people were laid off, and some were deemed essential workers and had to work in horrid conditions. These essential workers were often mistreated and underpaid, as not every business provided their employees with COVID-19 pay in addition to their regular paychecks. These people who continued to work risked their health as well because they had no other options. They may not have been eligible for unemployment or a stimulus check. They worked in places where customers did not want to wear masks and protested wearing them, and in even more extreme cases, coughed in workers’ faces.

People who did work as essential workers during the height of the pandemic did not get the recognition they deserved. They still managed to do their jobs understaffed with rude customers and no increase in pay for some. People’s amenities outweighed the cost of people’s lives in this case. They wanted everything to remain open, but this was impossible as many people died every day. In some cases, people were dying due to the lack of necessities, such as food, because of poverty.

Poverty exists throughout the U.S., and some people decided stimulus checks were their ticket out. The International Revenue Service has warned that there have been phishing attempts through text messages, emails and phone calls to try and receive someone’s stimulus check. These attempts have increased as the pandemic has progressed due to what I believe is increased poverty.

Even the World Bank has pointed out that millions of people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2021, yet there are still claims that the poverty rate has declined. NBC News published that due to the stimulus checks, the poverty rate has decreased. In contrast, CNN published that the poverty rate has increased during COVID-19, even though stimulus checks were dispersed to avoid increasing poverty rates.

The lack of consistent information makes it quite difficult to judge for oneself whether the poverty rate has risen or fallen. Whether this information affects people directly or not, whether the pandemic exacerbated or ameliorated poverty, income inequality is at its peak and that is bad news for America!