Child Poverty


September 13, 2011

Nearly One Million More Children Are Poor

Washington, D.C.—New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today reveals 46.2 million poor people in America, the largest number in the last 52 years. One in three of America’s poor were children—16.4 million—over 950,000 more than last year. The new numbers are grim and shameful—22 percent—or over one in five children in America—lived in poverty in 2010. Children under five suffered most—one in four—or 5.5 million infants, toddlers and preschoolers were poor in 2010. Children are the poorest age group in the country and getting poorer. Overwhelmingly, children have suffered more than any other age group during this recession and slow recovery.

“This is a national disgrace. Parents alone cannot protect children. Parents have no control over the massive joblessness and foreclosures and misguided tax cuts for the wealthy that have ravished our economy,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “Congress needs to wake up and change course to protect our children and their families. We must stop this devastation in our communities and protect children from all budget cuts. We need to invest in the health and education of our children and create jobs for their parents today.”

The new faces of child poverty—Sydney, 12 and Brittanie, 13 of Marion, Ohio, sold baked goods at a garage sale to raise money for school clothes and supplies. Both parents had jobs but have been laid off. Their father’s unemployment insurance has ended, their mother is recovering from a badly broken leg and now the family has virtually no income. Brittanie worries: “I hear them talking about bills and it makes me upset. I just think we’re going to be okay but sometimes, I don’t think we’re going to be okay.”



Census Bureau data released today shows:

  • Over one in five children—16.4 million—were poor in 2010. Over 5.5 million under five were poor.
  • Poverty is defined as an annual income of below $22,314 for a family of four – $1,860 a month, $429 a week, or $60 a day. Extreme poverty, defined as an annual income of less than half of the poverty level, means $11,157 a year, $930 a month, $215 a week, or $30 a day for a family of four.
  • Forty-five percent—7.4 million—were extremely poor; 2.6 million children under five were extremely poor.
  • Children of color were disproportionately poor: 4.4 million Black children—more than one in three—and 6.1 million Hispanic children—one in three—were poor. Five million White, non-Hispanic children—more than one in ten—were poor.
  • Children of color slid deeper into extreme poverty, and the younger they were the poorer they were. One in four Black and one in six Hispanic children under 5 were extremely poor.
  • Sixty-five percent of poor families with children under 18 have at least one worker.
  • More than 60 percent of all poor children—nearly 10 million—lived in single parent families.
  • Married couple families with children were not immune; almost 9 percent of all married couples with children under 18 years old were poor.
  • To give perspective on America’s shame:
    • The number of poor children is nearly the same as the combined populations of the states of Michigan and Arizona.
    • The number of poor Black and Hispanic children is slightly more than the entire population of Michigan and slightly less than the population of Ohio.
    • The number of poor infants, toddlers and preschoolers is larger than the entire population of the state of Minnesota.

Learn more about how children are faring through the Children’s Defense Fund’s recently released report, The State of America’s Children 2011.

For more information contact:

CDF Contact:
Patti Hassler
(202) 662-3554
For Ohio – Contact:
Renuka Mayadev
(614) 221-2244