Notable & Quotable: Cherry Picking Poverty Stats

April 27, 2022 6:30 p.m. ET

People ride bicycles past a homeless encampment set up along the boardwalk in Los Angeles on June 29, 2021.


Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Economist David Henderson, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes on, April 25:

The President’s 2022 Economic Report is finally out. . . . Here is an interesting passage. . .:

“Official estimates for the year 2021 will not be released until the end of 2022, but in 2020 the poverty rate fell to 9.6% from 11.8% in 2019, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure , which takes into account the resources that many low-income households receive from the government (Fox and Burns 2021).The decline in poverty was even greater for particular racial and ethnic groups, with the additional poverty rate among blacks and American Hispanics down 3.7 and 4.9 percentage points, respectively. . . .

The paragraph quoted above is correct. But notice what they don’t say. They don’t talk about the huge drop in black and Hispanic poverty from 2017. I think part of the reason is the 2017 tax cut. But whether you agree with that or not me on the cause, the fact is that they are only focusing on the part that they can arguably attribute, at least in part, to the huge federal grants in 2020.

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Appeared in the print edition of April 28, 2022 under the title “Notable & Citable: Pauvreté”.


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