CRS – Poverty in the United States in 2019, April 13, 2021: “Calendar year 2019 was the last full year before the start of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and the last year of the economic expansion since the Great Recession. The strength of the U.S. economy in 2019 was reflected in low poverty rates—the percentage of the population living in poverty (economic hardship characterized by low income)—for the nation and by demographic group. While the 2019 poverty estimates do not reflect people’s incomes during the pandemic, the pandemic affected survey data collection for that year, which took place February-April 2020. Instead of a combination of in-person interviews and telephone interviews, only telephone interviews were conducted due to social distancing restrictions. That affected the estimates because some respondents were harder to reach by phone than in person, less likely to respond to a telephone interview than an in-person interview, or less likely to respond for other reasons. The increased rate of non response affected persons with low incomes to a greater degree than persons with high incomes. That means that while poverty in 2019 was at or close to a historic low, it was likely not as low as the official estimates suggest..”
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