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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.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The mental health deal boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The positive social media response to Simone Biles withdrawing from Olympic competition highlights how the artificial line between health care and mental health care is finally beginning to dissolve. And startup investors have taken notice.

By the numbers: Venture capital investments in mental health startups rose 72.6% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, per CB Insights.

2 hours ago - Health

Israel to offer third COVID vaccine dose to people over 60

A woman receives her third dose of COVID19 vaccine at Sheba Medical Center on July 14, 2021 in Israel. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israel will begin offering a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine to people over the age of 60 starting Sunday, Haaretz reports.

Why it matters: Israel will become the first country to begin giving booster shots, per Haaretz. The country will offer doses to those over 60 who received their second dose at least five months ago.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

U.S. economy grew at a 6.5% rate last quarter, missing expectations

Contractors work on a home under construction. (Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The U.S. economy grew at an annualized 6.5% rate last quarter, the government said Thursday — slower than the 8.4% economists expected.

Why it matters: It came as the economy made strides toward further reopening, vaccinations rolled out and government stimulus bolstered spending. But supply crunches held the pace of growth back.