Child Poverty Still Falling — and Close to Pre-Recession Rate

Posted September 21, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog childpovertystillfallingstates2 2017

Amer­i­cans need to build an econ­o­my that offers oppor­tu­ni­ty and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty to every­one. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the lat­est data indi­cate that 19% of U.S. kids are now liv­ing in pover­ty. This trans­lates to 14 mil­lion kids across the coun­try grow­ing up poor in 2016.

Nation­al­ly, this sta­tis­tic has fall­en since 2014 and near­ly returned to its pre-reces­sion lev­el of 18%. Such progress is encour­ag­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly because grow­ing up in pover­ty is one of the sin­gle great­est threats to child devel­op­ment, accord­ing to research. Poli­cies such as the Earned Income Tax Cred­it, the Afford­able Care Act and rais­ing the min­i­mum wage help to reduce the pover­ty rate and sup­port oppor­tu­ni­ty and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty for all Americans.

Also encour­ag­ing: Child pover­ty rates have improved across all racial and eth­nic cat­e­gories. Yet, despite these rates mov­ing in the right direc­tion, chil­dren of col­or are still far more like­ly to expe­ri­ence pover­ty than their Asian or white peers. Pover­ty rates among African Amer­i­can, Amer­i­can Indi­an and Lati­no chil­dren are three to two times high­er than pover­ty rates among Asian and white chil­dren. Such clear dis­par­i­ties under­score why we must con­tin­ue to invest in efforts that pro­vide access to oppor­tu­ni­ty to all chil­dren and their families.

The fed­er­al pover­ty line is con­sis­tent across the coun­try, but varies accord­ing to house­hold size and income. For instance: In 2016, two adults and two chil­dren lived in pover­ty if their annu­al house­hold income was $24,339 or less.

At the state lev­el: In Mis­sis­sip­pi, New Mex­i­co and Louisiana — where child pover­ty rates are high­est — near­ly one in three kids is grow­ing up poor. These rates are three times low­er in New Hamp­shire (8%), Hawaii (10%), and Wyoming and Utah (11%), where child pover­ty is least common.

Between 2010 and 2016, five states — Utah, Hawaii, North Dako­ta, Mon­tana and Col­orado — report­ed dra­mat­ic drops their child pover­ty rate. Utah’s child pover­ty rate fell 31% dur­ing this time span, which is the great­est drop report­ed of any state. Mean­while, rates wors­ened in three states, jump­ing 8% in Alas­ka and 7% in Louisiana and New Jersey.

Access data on the KIDS COUNT Data Center:

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