Data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau shows income levels and poverty rates were not statistically different for most states and metro areas from 2011 to 2012. The Census Bureau's American Community Survey showed that incomes remained lower and poverty rates were higher in 2012 than in 2007, the year before the recession.
From state-by state figures, the scope of child poverty in Ohio shows there were 620,921 poor children in 2012, a reduction of 20,079 from last year. Ohio children living in poverty in 2012 was 23.8 percent compared to 24.2 percent a year earlier.
About 15.5 million children are living today in poverty in America—the highest child poverty rate the nation has seen since 1959, according to a report in June by KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nearly four million Americans fell into poverty last year and worst of all, children experienced the steepest rise in poverty and the largest single year increase since the 1960s.
"Children will lead the future of Ohio," Renuka Mayadev, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio said in reaction to the numbers that show not much has changed. Mayadev, a native of Columbus, Ohio, called children the nation's greatest natural resource. "We can strengthen our economy by supporting investments in our children,' she said, adding, "It costs our nation trillions of dollars in lost productivity each year that children are living in poverty."
Poverty is defined as an annual income below $23,492 for the average family of four—$1,958 a month, $452 a week, or $64 a day. Extreme poverty is an annual family income less than half of the poverty level—$11,746 a year, $979 a month, $226 a week, or $32 a day for the average family of four.
Key results from Census Bureau data released today for Ohio:
Ohio ranks 33rd among the fifty states in child poverty [1st is best].
- Nearly one in four children in Ohio – 23.8% - were poor in 2012. The percentage of children under age six who were poor was even higher at 28.3%.
- 11.8% of children in Ohio -308,053 children- were extremely poor; while 124,221 or 15.0% of children under six were extremely poor.
- Children of color were disproportionately poor. More than half (50.1%) of Black children and 38.9% of Hispanic children were poor. 17.1 percent of White, non-Hispanic children, were poor.
According to KIDS COUNT, the child poverty rate for the nation in 2011 stood at 23 percent, or 16.4 million children—an increase of 3 million since 2005. The number of children living in households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing—more than 29 million in 2011—saw minor improvement from the previous year, but was still about 2 million more than in 2005. The number of children whose parents lacked full-time, year-round employment was nearly 20 percent higher than in 2008.
Other highlights from the Census Bureau's report on poverty in America:
- The number and percentage of people in poverty did not have a statistically significant change in 43 states and the District of Columbia between 2011 and 2012, while in three states (California, Mississippi and New Hampshire) the number and percentage of people in poverty increased. In New Jersey and
- Wyoming, the number of people in poverty increased. In Minnesota and Texas, the percentage of people in poverty declined.
- No states showed a statistically significant decline in the percentage of people in poverty from 2000 to 2012.
- For 2012, states with the lowest poverty rates included New Hampshire (10.0 percent), Alaska (10.1 percent), Maryland (10.3 percent), Connecticut (10.7 percent) and New Jersey (10.8 percent). Not all of these states are statistically different from one another.
- States with the highest poverty rates for 2012 included Mississippi (24.2 percent), New Mexico (20.8 percent), Louisiana (19.9 percent), Arkansas (19.8 percent) and Kentucky (19.4 percent). Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky are not statistically different from one another.
- In 2000, estimated poverty rates ranged from a low of 5.3 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 20.0 percent in Louisiana. The poverty rate for Louisiana is not statistically different from West Virginia (18.6 percent).
- Among the largest 25 metropolitan areas, poverty rates in 2012 ranged from 8.4 percent in the Washington, D.C., metro area to 19.0 percent in the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area.
Mayadev, who also serves on the board of the progressive economic think tank Policy Matters Ohio, said a recommit is needed to ending child poverty. "Our great state can lead the way."
The primary mission of the Annie E. Casey Foundation is to "foster public policies, human-service reforms and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families," according to its Website. The foundation, established in 1948 by Jim Casey and his siblings, can trace its history back to 1907, when Casey started a small family messenger service business in Seattle, Washington, that grew up to become United Parcel Service, a multi-billion dollar global operation. Casey and his siblings named the philanthropy in honor of their mother.
KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the U.S.
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