More Than 1 in 5 US Children Living In Poverty

November 17, 2011United Statesby EW News Desk Team

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According to the latest US Census Bureau report released on Thursday, 21.6 percent of American children lived below the US federal poverty threshold in 2010, with more 27 states reporting increased poverty rates or absolute figures as compared to 2009.

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The number of people living in poverty has reached an all-time high in the US, as high unemployment rates continue to dog the economy, with the national poverty rate standing at 15.3 percent and unemployment at 9 percent some two years after the recession that began in 2007 officially ended.

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Consequently, more than 15.7 million American children are said to be presently living in poverty, compared to the 14.7 million reported in 2009.

"Children who live in poverty, especially young children, are more likely than their peers to have cognitive and behavioral difficulties, to complete fewer years of education, and, as they grow up, to experience more years of unemployment," said a statement by the Census Bureau.

In its report, the Census Bureau also noted that the number of children living in poverty had seen an increase across all major races in the US.

While the US’s White population had one of the lowest percentage of children living in poverty at 17.0 percent, it also had the greatest numeric increase among all the racial and ethnic groups, with 507,000 white children added to the poverty population in just one year.

The Black population had the highest poverty rate at 38.2 percent (4.0 million), while Asian children suffered the least at 13.0 percent.

State-wise, The child poverty rate increased by more than 2.0 percentage points in Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Alabama, California, Georgia and Louisiana saw childhood poverty rates increase by more than 1.5 percentage points, while Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin reported increases of more than 1.0 percentage points.

The state of Mississippi had the highest proportion of children in poverty at 32.5 percent, while Washington, D.C., and New Mexico, saw child poverty rates nearing one-third of the population.

In 10 states, child poverty rates were 25 percent or higher, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

"About one of every three children in poverty lived in one of the four most populous states, each of which saw increases in the number and the percentage of children in poverty between 2009 and 2010," the Census said.

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The US federal poverty threshold is measured by family size and annual income. Any child living below an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four is considered to be living in poverty, while individual poverty thresholds are determined and updated annually through income and cost of living.

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