1 In 5 American Children Now Living In Poverty


The numbers are shocking. In the United States today, 14.7 million children, or 20 percent, are poor. Child poverty increased in 38 states from 2000 to 2009. That represents a 2.5 million increase from 2000, when 17 percent of the nation’s youth lived in low-income homes.

These are the findings in 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Produced annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this study profiles the status of children on a national and state-by-state basis and ranks states on 10 measures of well-being.

Low-Income Children Suffer Academically, Economically And Socially

In the foundation’s first examination of the impact of the recession on the nation’s children, the researchers concluded that low-income children will likely suffer academically, economically and socially long after their parents have recovered.

From Education Week:

“People who grew up in a financially secure situation find it easier to succeed in life, they are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to graduate from college and these are things that will lead to greater success in life,” said Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “What we are looking at is a cohort of kids who as they become adults may be less able to contribute to the growth of the economy. It could go on for multiple generations.”

The survey concludes that children from low-income families are more likely to be raised in unstable environments and change schools than their wealthier peers. As a result, they are less likely to be gainfully employed as adults.

There are additional social costs: economically disadvantaged children can result in reduced economic output, higher health expenditures and increased criminal justice costs for society, according to the survey.

Recession Has Hit Children Hard

Here are a few details from the report. You can read the complete study at Kids Count Data Book.

*á Over the last decade there has been a significant decline in economic well-being for low income children and families.

*á Data also reveals the impact of the job and foreclosure crisis on children. In 2010, 11 percent of children had at least one unemployed parent and 4 percent have been affected by foreclosure since 2007.

* 68% of 4th graders scored below proficient on the National Assessment (NAEP) reading test in 2009.

* Nevada had the highest rate of children whose parents are unemployed or underemployed. The state is also home to the most children affected by foreclosures: 13 percent of kids in Nevada have been kicked out of their homes because of an unpaid mortgage.

* Overall, the percentage of children living in families in which no parent had full-time work increased from 27 percent in 2008 to 31 percent in 2009. Black children were nearly twice as likely as white children to have an unemployed parent.

* Mississippi was in overall last place in child welfare for the 10th consecutive year. The rankings are determined by 10 indicators that reflect child poverty, such as undernourished infants, infant mortality, teen births and children in single-parent families. The top state for children was New Hampshire, followed by Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont.

* In Mississippi, 31 percent of children were living in poverty, the highest rate in the U.S.

Need To Invest In The Success Of Our Children

These are depressing statistics. Yet again, it seems that this is a country where the rich get richer, and the poor just keep sliding downhill.

Is this what we want for the future of the U.S.? What kind of state, what kind of country can we expect to have if we are not investing in the success of our children? What do you think?

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Photo Credit: iStock


W. C
W. Cabout a month ago

Thanks for caring.

William C
William C9 months ago

Thank you.

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago

Very sad, also the numbers of seniors living in poverty is increasing.

Mary C.
Mary C4 years ago

As long as this keeps happening, it will only get worse.

A 33-year-old man who has fathered 30 kids is asking the state of Tennessee to give him a hand with his child support payments. Desmond Hatchett is having a tough time making ends meet while working a minimum wage job and seeing half of his paycheck get split up between his 11 baby mamas. Incidentally, his score and 10 kids is a record for Knox County, and some of his kids receive as little as $1.49 a month once the money is divvied up. Hatchett last appeared in court in May 2009, when he had a paltry 21 kids to his name and said he had no intention of having more. Somehow, he found a way to add nine more to his legacy, so we're guessing he probably isn't done at 30.

Tammy Baxter
Tammy B4 years ago

so sad.

Seabert B.
Seabert B6 years ago

This is sad and we all need to support in any way we can. There is no reason for any of this in the weathliest country in the world.

Winn Adams
Winn A6 years ago

This is so wrong. I support our local food banks and homeless shelters for women and children and the other one in our community for men.

David M.
David M6 years ago

This is just another example of the great plan to financially break the goverment so corporations/people can take advantage of the less fortunate who live in poverty and are uneducated. Then they can pay them third world wages with no unions to protect them and no benefits almost like slavery for the wealthy!

Shiyi C.
Sh C6 years ago

this is so sad

Michele T.
Michele T.6 years ago

And this is also why it is important to keep programs in schools that help students from low-income households succeed. Lately over the debt crisis, there has been talks of cutting the Trio program which helps many disadvanage students who are from low-income backgrounds succeed academically.

It has been hard for the poor, and who knows what will come next. There are many problems those individuals hold, as the article and many others have already commented on. There is also a psychological effect for those children too that tells them they cannot succeed which may or may not develop into a mental disorder.