Child poverty in the United States more than doubled in 2022, according to new data from the Census Bureau. Child poverty rose from 5.1 percent of children in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022, or about 9 million children. At the same time, overall poverty rose 4.6 percent to 12.4 percent, the first increase in the overall supplemental poverty measure since 2010.
This sudden increase in child poverty was caused by the expiration of expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) benefits, which provided families up to $3,600 per child in monthly installments, as well as the elimination of expanded unemployment insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments. Together, these programs, launched in response to the lockdowns imposed at the start of the COVID pandemic, helped reduce child poverty from 12.6% in 2019.
The doubling of poverty is the direct result of an agreement between President Joe Biden and congressional Republicans last year on a federal budget that protected massive military spending while cutting limited expansions of social programs implemented at the start of the pandemic.
In addition to the end of these benefits, there has been a massive rollback of Medicaid programs across the country, with millions of people giving up their Medicaid health insurance following Biden’s end of the official COVID-19 public health emergency earlier this year.
In March 2020, a Medicaid continuous enrollment provision was created that prevents states from disenrolling Medicaid recipients. This provision ended March 31, 2023, and states will continue to assess eligibility for the 94 million people enrolled in Medicaid coverage in March.
At least 6.4 million people enrolled in Medicaid were disenrolled as of Sept. 13 of this year, about 36% of all people who tried to renew their coverage. States governed by Republican-controlled legislatures are leading this trend: Texas is laying off nearly 900,000 people and Florida is laying off 430,000.
Only 15 states provided age-disaggregated data, but trends in these states alone show massive impacts on children. Among those released in the 15 states, 42% were children, for a total of 1,278,000. In Texas, the proportion of boys skyrocketed. In Texas, the proportion of boys jumped to 81%, while in Kansas, Idaho and Missouri it was 50% or more.
Of those who were able to re-enroll in Medicaid, only 55% did so through an “ex parte” process by the state administration on behalf of the participant. The remaining 45% had to renew their coverage themselves using a renewal form.
Compounding the loss of pandemic-era benefits overseen by the Democratic Biden administration is that household incomes have fallen significantly as the cost of living continues to skyrocket.
According to the census, real median household income in the U.S. fell 2.3 percent, from $76,330 to $74,580 in 2022, the largest decline since 2008. Since 2019, real median household income has fallen a total of 4.7 percent . Meanwhile, the cost of living rose 7.8 percent between 2021 and 2022, the largest increase since 1980.
The data also showed that the proportion of women working full-time rose to 65.6 percent in 2022, the highest ever recorded, while the proportion of men working full-time was 74.8 percent, which may reflect an increase in the number of families , where both parents work (48.9 percent in 2022 versus 46.8 percent in 2021).
As the cost of living continues to rise and real wages fall, more and more people are experiencing homelessness and poverty. Those suffering from declining living standards include a growing number of aging baby boomers – the generation born between 1946 and 1964 – who are at risk of homelessness.
Since 2019, the proportion of people aged 55 and over living in homeless shelters has increased from 16.5% to 19.8%. This rapid increase in homeless seniors has been dubbed the “silver tsunami” as more people approach retirement age and lack sufficient savings to cover their expenses. One of the typical causes of homelessness among the elderly is the death of a spouse or a medical emergency.
The average Social Security payment is just $1,781.63 per month, while the average rental cost is $2,038 per month. Many baby boomers lack adequate pensions after decades of mismanaged pension funds and concessions made to employers by pro-business union bureaucracies.
A common misconception is that the baby boomer generation is incredibly rich. Based on the total wealth of people in this age group, this is technically true. Baby boomers own more than $78 trillion, about half of all wealth in the United States. However, the vast majority of this money belongs to an aging cohort of capitalists and billionaires.
Research from the National Institute on Retirement Security found that the bottom half of baby boomers owned just 2% of their generation’s financial wealth, while the top 5% owned 58%. The middle 40% of baby boomers, between the 30th and 70th percentiles, owned only 14% of the financial wealth of their generation.
Basically, the distribution of wealth in society is based on classes and not generations.
While the average retirement savings of those over 55 exceeds $400,000, according to the Federal Reserve, the average retirement savings for the same group is significantly lower. According to the Federal Reserve, retirement savings for people ages 65 to 74 are $164,000, while Vanguard’s numbers are even lower at just $70,000 for people ages 65 and older.
Even high-end seniors can be overwhelmed by the cost of health care and the rising cost of living. As the economic crisis deepens in the United States, the proportion of homeless people over 55 will continue to rise.
This rapid increase in poverty and homelessness is the result of the ruling class’s bipartisan policy of forcing people to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic to generate profits for corporations and banks. By ending the expansion of these benefits, the ruling class wants to force people back to work by cutting vital resources that have reduced poverty rates. Now the Biden administration is trying to slow wage growth by causing a rise in unemployment through interest rate hikes.
Taken together, these measures will have a catastrophic impact on the working class. Millions of people have been excluded from expanded benefit programs, and millions more are now denied access to Medicaid health insurance. The rapid rise in child poverty to pre-pandemic levels is expected to continue in the coming years as parents struggle to meet even the most basic needs.