Press Release

Rhode Islanders faced hardship in 2022 because of failure by Congress to protect proven anti-poverty policies enacted during pandemic

Last updated: December 08, 2023

Rhode Islanders faced hardship in 2022 because of failure by Congress to protect proven anti-poverty policies enacted during pandemic

Black and Latino Rhode Islanders most impacted by Congressional lack of action

Friday, September 14, 2023

PROVIDENCE, RI – Nationally, the overall poverty rate and child poverty rate rose by the
largest amount on record in more than 50 years, according to new US Census data released
this week. The data also reveal that too many Rhode Islanders — over 113,000, or 10.8% —
live in poverty.

The increase in hardship was a result of the expiration of pandemic relief efforts that boosted
household incomes and economic security, such as the expanded Child Tax Credit.

“Congress allowed many proven effective anti-poverty policies to lapse, and greater hardship is
the result,” said Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, Executive Director of the Economic Progress
Institute. “We have the tools to ensure more Rhode Islanders have a strong foundation upon
which to prosper and thrive. If we use them, we can reverse the backslide we saw in 2022.”

These findings come from analysis by the Economic Progress Institute of new data on poverty,
income, and health coverage in 2022, released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The expanded federal Child Tax Credit was responsible for a major portion of the record
reduction in child poverty in 2021, lifting 2.1 million kids out of poverty. Congress’s decision to
allow the Child Tax Credit to expire at the end of 2021 is a major contributor to the increase in
national poverty levels in 2022. Had Congress continued the American Rescue Plan’s Child Tax
Credit increase in 2022, about 3 million fewer children would have experienced poverty in 2022
— preventing more than half of this year’s increase

“The good news is that policies like the expanded Child Tax Credit and nutrition support were
incredibly effective in keeping families out of poverty,” said Alan Krinsky, Director of Research &
Fiscal Policy for the Economic Progress Institute. “The bad news is that because policymakers
didn’t stand by those investments, more families and children will go without the essentials like
stable housing and enough food to eat.”

According to the Census Bureau’s Official Poverty Measure (OPM), the poverty rate in Rhode
Island was 10.8% and the child poverty rate was 11.3% in 2022. That is only a partial picture of
hardship in the state, and does not account for important factors like the cost of living, essential
expenses, regional differences or — most critically — the seismic changes in tax and social
safety net policies in 2022, when proven pandemic relief programs were allowed to lapse.

Researchers with the Economic Progress Institute recommend using the Supplemental Poverty
Measure (SPM), which paints a more comprehensive picture. The less complete OPM shows
poverty remaining flat nationally, while the SPM reveals poverty’s sharpest increase in more
than 50 years.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure is not available on an annual basis at the state level, but
because nearly all children benefited from the expanded Child Tax Credit and federal stimulus
payments in 2021 and lost them in 2022, analysts expect the same dynamic to have played out
in Rhode Island.

Even if the Child Tax Credit is restored, differences in poverty rates by race and ethnicity persist.

“According to the new Census Bureau data, Latino Rhode Islanders experience poverty at
nearly triple the rates of Non-Latino White Rhode Islanders,” said Nina Harrison, Policy Director
at the Economic Progress Institute. “Black Rhode Islanders experience poverty at nearly double
the rate of their White counterparts. In order to improve equity in RI, it is imperative that
policymakers consider the effects that the policies and budgets they advance will have on all
races and ethnicities.”

The Child Tax Credit is not the only critical pandemic relief effort for which expiration is
increasing hardship for Rhode Islanders. The data released Thursday shows that in 2022, the
number of uninsured Rhode Islanders remained near historic lows as a result of pandemic
policies such as Medicaid coverage protection and enhanced premium tax credits for
marketplace insurance plans. But those figures do not reflect coverage loss underway this year
after Congress allowed Medicaid coverage protection to expire in April. So far, 8,000 Rhode
Islanders have lost their health care coverage – many as a result administrative burden, not a
change in eligibility.

The Economic Progress Institute is a non-partisan research and policy organization that works
to ensure the economic security of low- and modest-income Rhode Islanders. To learn more
about The Economic Progress Institute, visit


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