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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)

Reports & Issue Briefs

The recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) review of the Thrifty Food Plan will result in increased benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), helping 42 million people afford food. This review, mandated under the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, will permanently increase the maximum SNAP benefit 21% above pre-pandemic levels. The increased benefit levels will result in an estimated $31.8 billion annually in additional economic activity, helping small businesses and local farms.

Emergency food programs enacted during the coronavirus pandemic were vital to working families who lost jobs through no fault of their own, and SNAP is projected to keep almost 8 million people out of poverty in 2021. Permanently increasing benefits under SNAP will benefit the whole economy as it helps individuals, working families, seniors and disabled people, and provides long-term benefits for low-income children.
Despite measured progress over the past few decades, Hispanic Americans continue to lag behind white Americans in earnings, working conditions and wealth. Hispanic workers are overrepresented in jobs that were on the frontlines of the pandemic—like healthcare and agriculture—which helped keep the U.S. economy afloat during the worst of the public health and economic crises. At the same time, Hispanic families and businesses were disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession it caused, exacerbating longstanding structural inequalities. Hispanic Americans responded to these challenges with resilience by risking their lives to perform the essential work of caring for others, maintaining the national food supply and keeping our economic recovery alive.

Recognizing both the contributions and challenges of the Hispanic community is vital to ensuring that every American can realize the promise of the America Dream.
The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has shone additional light on the ongoing housing affordability crisis that affects millions of low-income renters each year, along with the associated risks of eviction, homelessness and financial insecurity. A significant expansion of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, which provides rental support to the most disadvantaged families, would help address this crisis. Doing so will reduce poverty, increase housing stability and support the broader economy. Though significant investments in housing supply are needed to fully address the housing crisis, vouchers are the best policy option to ensure the lowest-income Americans can quickly access stable housing.
Using state-level data from the Treasury Department on advance Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments, the Joint Economic Committee estimated the number of qualifying children, total number of payments, and total payment amount by congressional district in August 2021, when the second round of CTC payments was distributed.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, emergency Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs helped keep the economy afloat and provided a critical lifeline for millions of Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Emergency UI programs, which were created under the CARES Act in March 2020, were designed to stabilize both the economy and households by replacing enough of unemployed workers’ lost income so they could continue to put food on the table, remain stably housed and pay their bills. By helping more unemployed people make ends meet, emergency UI spending supported local businesses and helped stabilize the whole economy during the worst recession since the Great Depression.
The American Rescue Plan and bipartisan emergency measures played a significant role in lowering the poverty rate in 2021, successfully alleviating hardship during an unprecedented national crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Recent analysis by the Urban Institute found that these bills, combined with existing benefit programs, reduced the projected poverty rate in 2021 by two-thirds and kept an estimated 50 million Americans out of poverty.