Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Uninsured Rate Rose in 2019; Income and Poverty Data Overtaken by Pandemic Recession

A Report on the release of 2019 Census Data (9/15/20) from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Income rose and poverty declined in 2019, as would be expected in the peak year of a decade-long economic recovery, but the number of Americans without health insurance increased for the third consecutive year despite a growing economy.
"THE NUMBER OF AMERICANS WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE INCREASED FOR THE THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR DESPITE A GROWING ECONOMY."The rise in the share of Americans who were uninsured at the time of the Census Bureau survey — from 8.9 percent (28.6 million people) in 2018 to 9.2 percent (29.6 million people) in 2019 — likely reflects continued Administration actions that have reduced access to health insurance coverage. The data show a 0.7 percentage-point decline in health insurance among Hispanic individuals, driven by a large, 1.4 percentage-point drop in the share of Hispanic individuals with public coverage.
These health coverage data come from Census’ American Community Survey (ACS), which was conducted before the pandemic hit. The income and poverty data, by contrast, come from the Current Population Survey (CPS), and their reliability is compromised because Census chiefly surveyed households for the CPS in March, as the pandemic was hitting. As Census noted in a paper released today, the pandemic and associated safety concerns forced it to stop in-person interviews and make other changes in collecting data, which sharply reduced response rates in the survey — especially among lower-income households. Census concluded that the increased non-response artificially boosted the income figures for 2019 and artificially lowered the poverty rate. See the full report here