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United States: Pandemic Impact On People In Poverty - Health - Nairaland

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United States: Pandemic Impact On People In Poverty by Andromache: 3:19am On Mar 04, 2021
(Washington, DC) – The United States government has made little progress in stemming the rise in poverty and inequality during the Covid-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should take urgent action to address the rights of millions of people suffering the compounded economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

A Human Rights Watch analysis of public-use microdata from the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey shows that the pandemic’s economic fallout has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the rights of low-income people who were already struggling. President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the US House of Representatives on February 27, 2021, provides key investments to mitigate the growing economic hardship affecting these parts of the population. The legislation is now with the Senate, where it may be amended before it is sent back to the House for a final vote.

“Millions of people in the US are falling into preventable poverty and hunger,” said Lena Simet, senior poverty and inequality researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The measures put forth in President Biden's relief proposal are urgently needed and the government shouldn’t cut corners when so many lives and livelihoods are at risk.”

Federal policymakers should ensure that relief not only reaches everyone in need, but also provides sufficient levels of support. It should also lay the foundation for a human rights-based economic recovery that ensures an adequate standard of living to everyone in the United States and addresses racial, gender, and other disparities, Human Rights Watch said.

Since the start of the pandemic, 74.7 million people have lost work, with the majority of jobs lost in industries that pay below average wages. Many of those who lost work and income are running out of money and savings. In January, some 24 million adults reported experiencing hunger and more than six million said they fear being evicted or foreclosed on in the next two months due to their inability to make housing payments. By contrast, higher-income people have been relatively unscathed economically. Despite the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression, the collective wealth of the US’ 651 billionaires has jumped by over $1 trillion since the beginning of the pandemic, a 36 percent leap.

Recent Census Bureau data show how households with different incomes are coping with the pandemic and that low-income households are disproportionally struggling for their social and economic rights to be met. Among households with incomes below $35,000, 47 percent of adults report being behind on housing payments, and 25 percent say they struggle to put food on the table. Thirty-two percent of low-income adults said they had felt depressed in the previous seven days. These low-income households urgently need a comprehensive rescue plan.

One-third of adults reported using past stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits to cover normal household expenses in the previous seven days; with 37 percent of them also going into debt by using credit cards and loans for routine expenses.

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