Jun 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Study: Stimulus checks helped keep Americans afloat

Illustration of a large dollar bill sign balloon being held by a man who is floating slightly off the ground.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Stimulus checks carved out by two major U.S. COVID relief bills — one signed by then President Trump last December and one by President Biden in March — helped many Americans avoid disaster, a new University of Michigan study analyzing census data finds.

Why it matters: More Americans were able to afford food and pay for standard household expenses after stimulus checks were distributed by the IRS in January and April, the analysis found.

Yes, but: Scott Winship, director of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute, questioned how reliable the census data is, per the New York Times . He noted that "fewer than one in 10 of the households the government contacts answer the biweekly surveys."

  • "He also argued that hardship would have fallen anyway, since the last round of stimulus checks coincided with tax season, which sends large sums to low-wage workers through tax credits," per the Times.
  • Zachary Parolin, a researcher at Columbia University, said that about half the country's decline in poverty would have taken place without pandemic relief, primarily because of earned-income and child tax credits.

What they found: Adults with children and people in households with annual incomes less than $25,000 benefitted most from direct coronavirus relief in the two bills, the study found.

  • Respondents to the Census Household Pulse Survey reported lessened anxiety and depression after the bills were passed.

What to watch: The expanded monthly child tax credit introduced in Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package will begin arriving in parents' bank accounts on July 15, according to the White House.

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