Stimulus checks significantly helped with basic bills, reduced anxiety: analysis
Stimulus checks sent out by the government during the pandemic significantly helped Americans pay basic bills and reduced their anxiety, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data.
“What we find is that reported hardship drops sharply—across multiple domains—immediately following both the COVID-19 relief bill passed in late December 2020 and [the American Rescue Plan Act] ARPA passed in early March 2021,” researchers from the University of Michigan wrote in the report.
“This is particularly true for adults with children, and adults living in households with annual incomes less than $25,000, though we also see declines in hardship further up the income ladder too,” they added.
Food insufficiency, financial instability, housing hardship and anxiety all fell after the passage of the December relief bill under former President Trump and a larger measure signed by President Biden in March, both of which included stimulus payments.
The direct relief from the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits enacted by both Trump and Biden resulted in decreased food insufficiency between December and April, with declines of more than 40 percent. Financial instability decreased by 45 percent and mental health symptoms went down by 20 percent, according to the analysis.
At the time, some lawmakers criticized the wildly popular checks, arguing some were going to families that didn’t need them, while others were opposed to adding to the deficit.
“We believe the success of the federal government’s relief measures may be due to the speed, breadth, and flexibility of its broad-based approach, primarily relying on cash transfers,” the analysis stated.
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