The poverty rate increased between 2019 and 2020 – unsurprisingly given the health and economic shock brought on by COVID-19. But a key takeaway from this year’s data is that critical programs such as economic impact payments (also called stimulus payments) and unemployment insurance benefits prevented millions from falling into poverty last year. In fact, the supplemental poverty measure showed that amidst historic hardship and unemployment, the poverty rate actually fell due to the effectiveness of public supports.
The fact remains, however, that women and especially women of color, faced disproportionate poverty and hardship. In 2020, over 1 in 9 women – or nearly 15.1 million – and nearly 1 in 6 children – over 11.6 million – lived in poverty. Some women of color, women with disabilities, and families headed by unmarried mothers all face even higher rates of poverty. About 6 in 10 (58.4%) of all poor children lived in families headed by unmarried mothers.