Child Poverty

The Poorest Americans Are Children and the Poorest Children Are Black, Hispanic and under Six

September 19, 2013

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Raymonde Charles
Press Secretary
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The Poorest Americans are Children and

the Poorest Children are Black, Hispanic and Under Six

In 24 States 40 Percent or More of Black Children are Poor

In 39 States 30 Percent or more of Hispanic Children are Poor

In 24 States 25 Percent or More Children Under Six are Poor

In 43 States Child Poverty Rates Remain Significantly Higher Than They Were Before the Recession

WASHINGTON, DC – The Children’s Defense Fund’s analysis of new state data released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that child poverty rates remain at record highs and Black, Hispanic and children under six suffer the most. Only two states (Texas and Illinois) experienced significant decreases from 2011. Child poverty rates actually increased in three states (New Hampshire, Mississippi and California) and remained at 2011 levels for the remaining 45 states.

“Children’s ability to survive, thrive and develop must not depend on the lottery of geography of birth. A child is a child and should be protected by a national floor of decency. We can and must end child poverty. It’s about values. It’s about priorities. It’s about who we are as Americans. The greatest threat to America’s national security comes from no foreign enemy but from our failure to invest in healthy and educated children,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

“All Americans including those in Congress have to recognize that Black and Hispanic children already are a majority of our babies and are the face of our future. We need them to be productive. Every year we keep over 16 million children in poverty we are losing hundreds of billions of dollars. Children did not cause the recession and they should not have to suffer from the recklessness of others. If we want to build a strong workforce and military and to stand for the basic tenets of justice for the most voiceless in our midst, we must end child poverty. How is it possible when millions of children are poor, Congress could for one minute consider cutting their food assistance,” asked Edelman referring to a proposal in the House of Representatives to cut SNAP by about $40 billion over the next ten years. 

The states with child poverty rates 25 percent or higher are:

  • Mississippi: 34.7
  • New Mexico:  29.3
  • Arkansas:  28.5
  • Louisiana:  28.1
  • Alabama:  27.5
  • Georgia: 27.2
  • Arizona: 27.0
  • South Carolina: 26.9
  • Kentucky: 26.5
  • North Carolina: 26.0
  • Texas: 25.8
  • Tennessee: 25.8
  • Florida:  25.4

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 defined as an annual income of less than half of the poverty level or $11,746 a year, $979 a month, $226 a week, or $32 a day for the average family of four.