Hunger Didn’t Rise During Pandemic Thanks to Government Programs, Study Says

Two men in grocery aisle, shopping

The expansion of several government programs last year likely prevented hunger from rising despite the sudden economic downturn caused by the pandemic, a study showed.

The percentage of U.S. households that reported food insecurity was virtually unchanged in 2020 compared to the year prior despite the recession, according to a report from the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service released Wednesday. More than 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April 2020 as state and local officials implemented strict restrictions on business activity to curb the spread of coronavirus, Labor Department data showed.

“This is huge news — it shows you how much of a buffer we had from an expanded safety net,” Urban Institute researcher Elaine Waxman told The New York Times. “There was no scenario in March of 2020 where I thought food insecurity would stay flat for the year. The fact that it did is extraordinary.”

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Job Searches Increased in Republican States Canceling Federal Unemployment Boost: Report

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Relative to the national trend, job searches temporarily increased in states that have announced they will no longer offer the pandemic-related federal unemployment boost, an economic report showed.

In states that are withdrawing from the federal unemployment program, interest in job postings increased 5%, according to the report released Thursday by job listings site Indeed. The increase was relative to a national average recorded during the final two weeks of April, before Republican governors began canceling the federal benefit.

“In May, job search activity on Indeed increased, relative to the national trend, in states that announced they would end federal [unemployment] benefits prematurely,” the Indeed report said.

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