WIRED: Charity TikTok Videos Put an Uncomfortable Spin on Morality

WIRED: Charity TikTok Videos Put an Uncomfortable Spin on Morality. “The hashtag #honestytest has 51.5 million views on the platform—among other tests, creators drop bundles of cash in front of people as a ‘social experiment,’ filming them to see if they’ll pocket the money (some of these people are experiencing homelessness; many of these videos are clearly staged). Ultimately, ‘dishonest’ people are embarrassed in front of millions of viewers, while ‘honest’ people are rewarded financially.”

World Bank: Distributional Impacts of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa Region

World Bank: Distributional Impacts of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa Region. “A new report, titled Distributional Impacts of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa Region, asks: How does COVID-19 affect the welfare of individuals and households in MENA, and what are the key issues that policy makers should focus on to enable a quick and sustained economic convalescence?… The report’s findings suggest a substantial rise in poverty, greater inequality, the emergence of a group of “new poor” (those who were not poor in the first quarter of 2020 but have become poor since), and changes in the labor market (notably how hard people work and how many people work).”

Associated Press: COVID-19 Spike Worsens Africa’s Severe Poverty, Hunger Woes

Associated Press: COVID-19 Spike Worsens Africa’s Severe Poverty, Hunger Woes. “Nearly two years into a global pandemic, a new spike in coronavirus cases driven by the omicron variant is once again shuttering businesses, halting travel, reviving fears of overwhelmed hospitals and upending travel and holiday plans in countries around the world. But in Zimbabwe and other African nations, the virus’s resurgence is threatening the very survival of millions of people who have already been driven to the edge by a pandemic that has devastated their economies. When putting food on the table is not a given, worries about whether to gather with family members for the holiday or heed public announcements urging COVID-19 precautions take a back seat.”

U.S. Cities Try New Way to Help the Poor: Give Them Money (Reuters)

Reuters: U.S. Cities Try New Way to Help the Poor: Give Them Money. “At least 16 cities and counties are handing out no-strings-attached payments to some low-income residents, a Reuters tally found. At least 31 other local governments plan to do so in the months ahead. That’s a departure from most U.S. anti-poverty programs, which provide benefits for specific needs like groceries or rent and require recipients to hold a job or look for work.”

Oregon Office of Economic Analysis: Pandemic Poverty and Progress

Oregon Office of Economic Analysis: Pandemic Poverty and Progress. “This morning the Census Bureau released ‘experimental’ estimates for the 2020 American Community Survey. It’s a rather limited number of published tables available at the state level. It’s better than nothing, but this is what we get since all of us did such a terrible job filling out our surveys last year. The hope is the underlying microdata will allow our office to dig a bit deeper into the numbers which aren’t currently published, in particular this includes breakdowns by geography and race and ethnicity. All that said, let’s go over the headline numbers which are broadly in line with expectations and are continued good news.”

Bloomberg Government: Food Insecurity for Children Spiked in 2020, New Report Says (1)

Bloomberg Government: Food Insecurity for Children Spiked in 2020, New Report Says (1). “Kids in about 2.9 million homes nationwide went hungry at some point last year during the coronavirus pandemic, new Agriculture Department data show. That’s children in about 7.6% of U.S. households with kids, an uptick from 6.5% in 2019, the latest Economic Research Service study on food security reported. The annual survey helps the agency determine the extent of food access across the country.”

Politico: Round one of child tax credit payments slashed hunger rates, U.S. data shows

Politico: Round one of child tax credit payments slashed hunger rates, U.S. data shows. “The percentage of American families with kids who report not having enough to eat fell dramatically after the first child tax credit payments were distributed last month, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The government’s finding shows that the monthly payments are having a major and immediate impact on millions of households, potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s push to extend the tax credit past the end of this year, when it is set to expire.”

Washington Post: Millions couldn’t afford diapers before the pandemic. Now, diaper banks can’t keep up.

Washington Post: Millions couldn’t afford diapers before the pandemic. Now, diaper banks can’t keep up.. “Chelesa Presley is deeply familiar with the struggles of young families, first from her years as a social worker and now from running a nonprofit in one of Mississippi’s poorest regions. She’s used to the questions about car seats, nursing and colicky babies, but paying for diapers is always the chronic and most-pressing worry. ‘I see parents not putting anything on their babies because they don’t have diapers,’ she said. ‘I’ve seen people use shopping bags with some rags in it. I’ve seen T-shirts. I’ve seen people keeping the diapers on longer than necessary, and the diapers sag down when the babies walk.’”

Phys .org: COVID-19 increased energy insecurity among low-income Americans

Phys .org: COVID-19 increased energy insecurity among low-income Americans. “Nearly 4.8 million low-income American households were unable to pay an energy bill last year, a problem that intensified during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income Black and Hispanic households were especially vulnerable to energy insecurity, as were households with small children or members who relied on electronic medical devices, and those with inefficient housing conditions.”

Washington Post: Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer

Washington Post: Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer. “The U.S. poverty rate has surged over the past five months, with 7.8 million Americans falling into poverty, the latest indication of how deeply many are struggling after government aid dwindled. The poverty rate jumped to 11.7 percent in November, up 2.4 percentage points since June, according to new data released [December 16] by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.”

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Some U.S. states hit harder by COVID-19 food insecurity

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Some U.S. states hit harder by COVID-19 food insecurity. “The report finds the hardest hit states are the same as before the pandemic – Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and New Mexico ­– but with higher rates. Jefferson County, Mississippi, has the highest food insecurity rate, 30.4%, in the country. However, the pandemic disproportionately affected other states. For example, Nevada jumped from 20th to eighth highest food insecurity rate by state.”

BuzzFeed News: His Landlord Evicted Him During The Pandemic And Then Demanded $1,100 For Him To Get His Belongings

BuzzFeed News: His Landlord Evicted Him During The Pandemic And Then Demanded $1,100 For Him To Get His Belongings. “Ty is one of tens of thousands of Americans who have already been, or soon will be, evicted from their homes since the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread job and income loss in March. The combined forces of the economic fallout from the pandemic, tenuous contract employment, poor protections for tenants, and lack of access to affordable healthcare have created a miasma of conditions that has pushed those already living in a precarious state over the edge.”

Futurity: Utility Shut-offs, Evictions More Likely For Households Of Color

Futurity: Utility Shut-offs, Evictions More Likely For Households Of Color. “Researchers from the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs surveyed more than 1,800 Americans at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. The survey, which professors Sanya Carley and David Konisky conducted, is the second wave of the ‘Survey of Household Energy Insecurity in Time of COVID.’ In June they released the first batch of data, which both highlighted and foreshadowed significant problems with vulnerable populations’ ability to pay utility bills, put food on their tables, and remain in their homes.”