Progress Stalls on Child Poverty, According to 2018 Data

Posted September 27, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Children living in poverty 2018

In 2018, 13 mil­lion chil­dren in the Unit­ed States18% of all kids — were liv­ing in pover­ty, and for the first time since 2014, the per­cent­age did not decrease com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year. This is dis­cour­ag­ing news; all chil­dren should have the eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty that pro­vides them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to thrive. How­ev­er, the share of chil­dren in pover­ty remains sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er than its recent peak of 23%, seen in 2011 and 2012 in the shad­ow of the Great Reces­sion, and the rate has not been low­er than 18% since 2001.

Racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties remained sharp, reflect­ing the work that remains to be done to address per­sis­tent inequities. African Amer­i­can (32%) and Amer­i­can Indi­an (31%) chil­dren are near­ly three times as like­ly — and Lati­no kids (26%) more than twice as like­ly — to live in pover­ty as white (11%) and Asian and Pacif­ic Islander (11%) children.

Mis­sis­sip­pi was home to the high­est share of chil­dren in pover­ty among the states (28%, one per­cent­age point greater than in 2017). Per­cent­ages rose in 13 states and fell in 22 and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia com­pared with 2017, although the reduc­tion exceed­ed one per­cent­age point only in D.C. (26% to 23%), Louisiana (28% to 26%), Mass­a­chu­setts (14% to 12%) and Ver­mont (also 14% to 12%). In Puer­to Rico, 57 per­cent of chil­dren lived in pover­ty in 2018.

In 2018, liv­ing in pover­ty meant that a fam­i­ly of two adults and two chil­dren had an income of less than $25,465. New­ly released data also exam­ine child pover­ty by age and by race and eth­nic­i­ty and age, and fig­ures on chil­dren liv­ing under 200% of the fed­er­al pover­ty lev­el can also be found on the Data Cen­ter. Half or more of all chil­dren are grow­ing up low-income fam­i­lies in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mis­sis­sip­pi and New Mex­i­co, as well as in Puer­to Rico.

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