Latest US Census Bureau poverty statistics: U-M experts can discuss

David Johnson

David Johnson


University of Michigan faculty are available to discuss the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 report on poverty and income statistics, to be released Sept. 14.

The poverty rate in 2019 was 10.5% (34 million people), a decrease of 1.3 percentage points from 11.8% (29.8 million people) a year earlier. The latest figures are likely to decline due to federal dollars, such as stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, going to more households during the pandemic.

David Johnson , director of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and research professor at the Institute for Social Research and Ford School of Public Policy, previously served as chief of the Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division at the U.S. Census Bureau. His research interests include the measurement of inequality and mobility (using income, consumption and wealth), the effects of tax rebates, poverty measurement and price indexes.

H. Luke Shaefer is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy, professor at the School of Social Work and faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research. He also is director of Poverty Solutions, a universitywide presidential initiative that aims to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research. He can discuss the measurement of poverty and alternative metrics for measuring hardship. He co-authored an analysis of material hardship levels among U.S. households during the pandemic.

Kristin Seefeldt is an associate professor at the School of Social Work and Ford School of Public policy and associate director of Poverty Solutions. Her research explores how economic and policy changes affect the everyday lives of economically vulnerable families, and she studies family financial coping strategies, particularly the use of debt as a way to make ends meet.

Trina Shanks is the Harold R. Johnson Collegiate Professor of Social Work, director of the Center for Equitable Family and Community Well-Being and faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research. She conducts research on the impact of poverty and wealth on child well-being; asset-building policy and practice across the life cycle; and community and economic development.

Roshanak Mehdipanah is an assistant professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health. She can discuss connections between housing instability and health, health equity gaps and urban health, and the intersections with other determinants of health. Her recent research using U.S. Census data showed how rent and mortgage payments were linked to worse health outcomes during the early stages of the pandemic.

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