Propel: Stimulus Payment Inequities and the Implications for the Child Tax Credit

March 19, 2021

Studies and news reports continue to pour in about the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on low-income households with children. Our partners at SaverLife recently published a report detailing how school closures, reduced work hours, and increased food costs are crushing low-income families. Many of their findings align with what we’ve been hearing from moms across the country through our monthly Household Pulse Survey (see below for February insights). 

The recent passage of the American Rescue Plan will hopefully bring much-needed relief to struggling parents. The expansion of the Child Tax Credit, one of the biggest changes to the social safety net in a generation, is projected to reduce child poverty by 40%. While delivery logistics of this benefit remain uncertain, many low-income families have yet to receive the first two stimulus payments. Disparities in access are even more striking for families of color. Learn more here.

These inequities leave the most impacted households at risk of missing out on the CTC. In the coming months, we will work hard to connect families with the information they need to access this critical benefit.


“He pedido prestado a Amigos y familiares para cubrir mis gastos porque ni he obtenido ninguna ayuda por parte del gobierno mis hijos son nacidos aquí pero yo no. Y por eso no califico para esas ayudas.” / “I have borrowed from friends and family to cover my expenses because I haven’t received any help from the government my children were born here but not me. And because of that I don’t qualify for aid.” -Mayra, Feb. 2021

“I have been unemployed for 6 months now was receiving pua but ended my mom was helping me but now her money is tight so I had to leave my home and I have been in my car me and my son for three days my mom is out of state  I’m just here alone didn’t get stimulus don’t know why because I worked I’m just in a bad place.”-Lachelle, Jan. 2021

“I am a single mother of 3 boys unemployed receiving cash aid only .. have asked family/friends to borrow money to make ends meet with rent/utilities and food. Have not received tax refund or stimulus check yet.. very stressful!” -Jeannie, Jan. 2021

Household Pulse Survey: February Insights

Food insecurity dropped in February while housing uncertainty reached a new peak. Despite federal interventions and employment gains, racial disparities continue to have severe consequences for communities of color. 

Second stimulus payment has reached many more, but still fewer Black and Latinx households

  • 68% of respondents have received the $600 payment
    • 71% of white respondents
    • 65% of Black respondents
    • 66% of Latinx respondents 

Food insecurity continues to drop from December peak

  • In the past 30 days:
    • 33% have skipped meals (↓2 percentage points)
    • 42% have eaten less (↓3 pp)
    • 30% have visited a food pantry (↓2 pp)
    • 22% relied on family or friends for meals (↓4 pp)

First gains in employment, but inequitably distributed across racial groups

  • Black and Latinx workers are more likely to not be working and looking for work

Housing instability has increased, reaching a new peak

  • Households reporting housing uncertainty went up to 8.6%, after hovering around 7.5% from November to January.

More detailed findings will be posted to our website soon. Please visit our COVID-19 response page