Child Poverty Declines Slightly in 2018 to 18 Percent

September 26, 2019


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Key Findings

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For the first time, child poverty rates are at or below pre-recession rates in all regions of the United States, although rates remain elevated in five states.

Nearly one-in-five American children were poor in 2018, according to analyses of new American Community Survey data released today. While child poverty has finally returned to pre-recession rates, the 0.4 percentage point decline since 2017 continues the trend of incremental decreases in child poverty since the post-recession peak in 2012. Child poverty rates continue to be lowest in the suburbs, although this is the only place type in which rates have not returned to pre-recession levels.

The South remains the region with highest child poverty rate (20.6 percent), while rates are between 16.0 and 17.0 percent in other regions. Both child poverty rates and the pace of post-recession recovery vary from state to state (see Appendix Table 1), but forty-five states now have child poverty rates similar to or lower than pre-recession. Although the official poverty measure provides an important yardstick for tracking child wellbeing, it is important to note that families at or above the poverty line still struggle to meet needs and prosper.