Childhood hunger declines as tax credit payments arrive

Amanda Peacher Aug 26, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
A person collects a box of food at a food distribution bank in Los Angeles in August 2020. Recent Census data shows a decrease in hunger and poverty for households with kids, especially among Black and Latinx households. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Childhood hunger declines as tax credit payments arrive

Amanda Peacher Aug 26, 2021
Heard on:
A person collects a box of food at a food distribution bank in Los Angeles in August 2020. Recent Census data shows a decrease in hunger and poverty for households with kids, especially among Black and Latinx households. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Census data released Wednesday shows a recent decrease in both hunger and poverty for households with kids. That coincides with families receiving the expanded Child Tax Credit, a per-child monthly payment of up to $300 that started in July.

Those payments, part of the American Rescue Plan, are temporary and set to run out at the end of the year. But that influx of cash has been especially helpful for very low-income Black and Latinx families.

“We could see significant poverty reduction in the Latino community, as much as 40% of Latino kids,” said Eric Rodriguez with the nonprofit UnidosUS.

Susana Salgado’s children could be among those. She and her husband work but still struggle to make ends meet for their family of four in Chicago. Her husband works at a restaurant and his hours were cut recently because of the delta variant. Salgado put the monthly deposit toward back-to-school expenses.

“So, we’re buying backpacks, uniforms, school supplies and also paying for the registration for programs that our children want to participate in that sometimes are not free, and we have to pay,” she said.

The benefits also affect white families. In the case of Denver-based Heidi Laursen, a single mom who works in the hotel industry, the credit helped pay for child care for her 8-year-old son.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” she said. Laursen hopes the cash payments and increased credit will become permanent. “This child tax credit takes some of that stress that I was feeling about, ‘How am I going to do this? How am I going to keep going?'”

Extending the direct cash payments for households with kids is part of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget bill making its way through Congress.

And once people experience these kinds of benefits, they’re more likely to become permanent, according to Katherine Michelmore, a public policy professor at the University of Michigan.

“Once these changes happen in the tax code, they tend to stick because they tend to be fairly popular among the populations,” Michelmore said.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.