There have been countless shortcomings in the responses of federal and state officials to the COVID-19 crisis over the past year and a half, but things have also improved dramatically since President Biden took office. Here’s a very practical example:
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the efforts of the Gov. Cooper administration, hundreds of thousands of low-income households in North Carolina are receiving enhanced SNAP food assistance benefits and the extra help is taking big bite out of hunger.
According to the most recent data, nearly 800,000 North Carolinians will receive more than $138 million of extra food credit this month, which researchers at NC State say will have a substantial and positive impact on everyday lives and in reducing food insecurity.
Biden and Cooper have also done their part to keep unemployment insurance benefits flowing, limit evictions and, of course, promote the ultimate key to a return to normal: mass COVID-19 vaccinations.
Despite these helpful actions, however, it remains clear that many North Carolinians continue to struggle mightily, and that the economic recovery in our state is deeply uneven.
As the latest edition of the N.C. Budget & Tax Center’s “Prosperity Watch” series makes clear (“Data shows too many in NC still struggle to pay for food, rent, and basic expenses”), for a large segment of the state’s households, the economic recovery has yet to occur.
Here are some of the numbers that report author Christopher Chaves gleaned from recent installments of the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey:
12% – share of NC adults living with children who report that their household sometimes or often does not have enough to eat
10% – share of all adults making such a report
700,000 – number of adults this represents
2x – nationwide, the degree to which Black and Latinx adults are more likely to experience this hardship than white adults
17% – share of North Carolina renters who reported that their household was behind on rent
400,000 – number of renters this represents
28% – share of North Carolina adults who reported that their household sometimes or often had trouble affording usual expenses in the past seven days
2 million – number of adults this represents
2x – nationwide, the degree to which Black and Latinx adults are more likely to experience these hardships than white adults
And here are some additional numbers about the current hunger crisis in North Carolina as recently reported by Policy Watch investigative reporter Lynn Bonner and Budget & Tax Center analyst Heba Atwa:
$123 – amount added to the monthly incomes of families receiving SNAP benefits as a result of program enhancements put in place in 2020 and 2021
-2.2% – amount that U.S. food insecurity declined the last time enhanced benefits of this kind were approved in Washington in 2008-2009
7.3 million – number of Americans who are lifted out of poverty by the SNAP program
80% – share of SNAP benefits that flow into the economy within two weeks of their receipt
97% – share that flow within a month
$1.70 – amount by which every dollar in new SNAP benefits increases Gross Domestic Product
2018 – year in which a Duke University study identified a notable and positive relationship between a family’s receipt of SNAP benefits and the performance of children in that family on public school end-of-grade tests