U.S. Child Poverty Rate Reaches Prerecession Level

Posted September 18, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Updates childpovertyratereaches 2018

The nation’s child pover­ty rate has fall­en to 18% — a fig­ure that trans­lates to slight­ly more than 13 mil­lion kids liv­ing in pover­ty, accord­ing to data from the 2017 Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey. The last time the nation saw such a low child pover­ty rate was in 2007, just before the Great Recession.

Across the coun­try in 2017, 15 states report­ed child pover­ty rates below pre­re­ces­sion lev­els while sev­en states matched their pre­re­ces­sion rate. In 28 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, how­ev­er, the per­cent­age of chil­dren grow­ing up poor still hov­ers above pre­re­ces­sion rates.

Com­par­ing data from 2007 to 2017, Arkansas, Col­orado, Iowa, Mon­tana and North Dako­ta saw the great­est declines in child pover­ty rates while Alas­ka, Delaware, Hawaii, Mary­land and Neva­da saw the largest jumps.

More than half of the 50 largest U.S. cities saw their child pover­ty rates drop below pre­re­ces­sion levels.

Even with these improve­ments, spe­cif­ic racial and eth­nic groups still expe­ri­enced child pover­ty at a rate that exceed­ed the nation­al aver­age. This includes chil­dren 5 and younger (20% are liv­ing in pover­ty) as well as chil­dren who are Amer­i­can Indi­an (33%), African Amer­i­can (33%) and Lati­no (26%).

If kids are young and African-Amer­i­can or Amer­i­can Indi­an, they are among the most like­ly to live in pover­ty, with 37% grow­ing up poor.

Liv­ing in pover­ty — which equates to annu­al earn­ings of less than $24,858 in 2017 for a fam­i­ly of four — is one of the sin­gle great­est threats to child devel­op­ment. Poli­cies such as the Earned Income Tax Cred­it and the Afford­able Care Act, as well as efforts to raise the min­i­mum wage, can help reduce the pover­ty rate and sup­port oppor­tu­ni­ty and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty for all Americans.

2017 Child Pover­ty Indicators

Access pover­ty data on the KIDS COUNT Data Center:

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