Federal aid helped families amid Covid-19. Expiring protections leave them vulnerable.

Each fall, the U.S. Census Bureau releases detailed data about poverty, income and health
insurance coverage for each state and the nation as a whole. Last year, the Bureau only
released national data due to pandemic-related disruptions in data collection that made
state estimates unreliable. This year’s American Community Survey (ACS) results provide
our first glimpse into how pandemic-era economic conditions compare to 2019 state data.

While the pandemic and natural disasters have caused tremendous hardship for Louisiana
families, federal aid and safety-net programs helped people make ends meet. The
fully refundable child tax credit (CTC) drove child poverty to historic lows. Safety net
programs, both traditional and emergency relief, lifted tens of thousands of Louisianans
out of poverty. Pandemic-related enrollment protections kept a record number of
Louisianans covered by health insurance during an ongoing public health emergency.

The data show that poverty is a policy choice. A strong federal safety net helped
low-income families. But, as programs have been allowed to expire, such as the CTC, and
the public health emergency draws near an end, policymakers must act to help families
amid an unequal recovery. Going back to the pre-pandemic status quo is not good enough.