The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, April 07, 2020 1:00 am

91% in city to get max stimulus aid

High percentage shows low incomes

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

An estimated 91% of Fort Wayne residents will receive the maximum amount of coronavirus relief from the federal government, according to a study released Monday.

And 96% of city residents will get some payment from the IRS, financial advice company SmartAsset reported.

Among the nation's 200 largest cities, Fort Wayne has the 16th highest percentage of households that will receive checks, which will be sent to individuals who earn less than $99,000 a year and couples who earn less than $198,000 a year.

New York-based SmartAsset compiled its estimates and rankings using 2018 income data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Most of the cities where the largest numbers of residents will receive federal payments are in the Midwest and the South, and most of the cities where the fewest numbers of residents will be issued checks are on the coasts.

“Being high on the list tells us that we have a large share of low-income households,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne. 

“We will be seeing a large influx of this cash and, frankly, when I look at it against the recent numbers of unemployment, we need it,” Blakeman said in a phone interview.

First-time unemployment claims for Allen County have surged from 115 to almost 10,000 in recent weeks as Gov. Eric Holcomb restricted many commercial activities and ordered Hoosiers to stay home. Medical experts say social distancing – maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between people and limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people – helps protect against the transmission of the new coronavirus, which causes a potentially deadly respiratory disease.

A provision of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package approved last month by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump will spread $250 billion in one-time direct payments across most households. Individuals with adjusted gross incomes of up to $75,000 a year will receive $1,200, and married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. The checks will shrink as incomes grow to no more than $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples. 

Recipients also will receive $500 for each of their children younger than 17.

Blakeman said the federal government made a policy decision “recognizing that higher income households did not need to be stimulated. ... There is a very clear structure, and that structure does advantage Fort Wayne households and families.”

Fort Wayne's median income was $48,023 in 2018, when 17.3% of city residents were living in poverty. According to SmartAsset's rankings, federal coronavirus payments will go to only 54% of the residents of Sunnyvale, California, where the median income was $131,791 and the poverty rate 5.8% in 2018.

Fort Wayne and two Ohio cities with high percentages of people who will receive federal payments – Toledo and Dayton – are in areas that have seen income growth in suburbs outside city limits, Blakeman said.

“If the city of Fort Wayne had not been aggressive in the past 30 years of annexing, we would be higher on that list” of cities ranked by SmartAsset, she said. “The fact that city government captured developments northeast, northwest and definitely southwest has actually improved the results here, if improvement is being lower on the list.”

SmartAsset reported that 80.5% of American households will receive the full federal payment and 89% will receive at least some benefit.

Read the report

Cities Where the Most and Fewest People Would Benefit from the COVID-19 Stimulus – 2020 Study

Virus aid

Selected rankings for large cities with high estimated percentages of residents receiving any benefit from federal coronavirus relief payments and percentages of residents receiving full benefits:

       City                    Any benefit           Full benefit

1. Hialeah, Fla.                  98.1%                95.1%

2. Sunrise Manor, Nev.      97.9%               94.1%

3. Brownsville, Texas         97.7%               95.2%

4. Toledo                          97.6%               94.6%

5. Dayton                         97.4%               92.8%

8. Detroit                         96.9%               93.8%

16. Fort Wayne                 95.9%               90.8%

Source: SmartAsset, based on U.S. Census Bureau data


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