As the nation slowly continued to navigate its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 brought many hopeful signs for low-income Americans looking for pathways into opportunity. Pandemic relief programs — particularly the expanded Child Tax Credit — reduced poverty rates dramatically in 2021, the Census Bureau found. The poverty rate fell to 7.8 percent, down from 9.2 percent the previous year, and the share of children in poverty hit a record low of 5.2 percent, down 4.5 percentage points from 2020.
But as 2023 approaches, many of those aid programs have expired and a debate looms for the new Congress on which, if any, to extend. American saw further evidence in 2022 that policy choices can dramatically reduce poverty — but those choices require difficult political choices and bipartisan compromise, particularly with the advent of another era of divided government.
Spotlight hopes to serve as a safe and constructive space for these crucial debates in coming months, whether they focus on renewing the expanded Child Tax Credit, federal paid leave, the affordable childcare crisis, or the devastating impact of the pandemic on the nation’s young people, particularly those already facing economic and familial challenges.