Poverty Resources

Resource Category Topic Type
2012 National Child Poverty Rate Stagnates at 22.6 Percent
In this brief, authors Marybeth Mattingly, Jessica Carson, and Andrew Schaefer use American Community Survey data released on September 19, 2012, to explore patterns of child poverty across states and place types, focusing on changes both since 2011 and since the recession began in 2007.
New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, New Hampshire, Poverty Publication
2014 Data Indicate That Four in Ten Children Live in Low-Income Families
In September 2015, the Census Bureau released 2014 poverty data from the American Community Survey (ACS), the only regular source for reliably estimating child poverty in geographic areas below the state level using the official poverty measure. In this brief, we use ACS data to explore child poverty rates across the United States by region, state, and place type (rural, suburban, and city). We also examine data on children who are deeply poor (those in families with incomes below half of the poverty line), as well as low-income children (those in families with incomes less than twice the poverty line). We find that while child poverty declined nationwide between 2013 and 2014, that drop was not felt uniformly across the country: several states saw declines, a few states saw increases, and others saw no change at all. We also found substantial differences in the magnitude of change across rural places, suburbs, and cities. Child Poverty Rates Vary by State While child poverty declined overall, rates still vary tremendously across states, regions, and place types (see Table 1). Nationwide, 21.7 percent of children lived in poor families in 2014 (that is, with incomes below $19,073 for a single parent with two children),1 down 0.6 percentage point since 2013. Regionally, the Northeast retains the lowest child poverty rate, at 19.0 percent, while the highest rates continue to be found in cities (28.5 percent), followed by rural places (25.2 percent), and suburbs (16.8 percent). While child poverty declined in all place types between 2013 and 2014, declines across regions were not as consistent: the Northeast’s child poverty rate remained stable between 2013 and 2014 whereas other regions experienced a decline. Child poverty remained higher than in 2009 (post-recession) in nearly every region and place type, with the sole exception of the rural Midwest, where the 2014 child poverty rate was similar to the 2009 rate. State-by-state variations in child poverty rates are illustrated in Figure 1. States with poverty rates below 15 percent included Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. At the other end of the spectrum, rates in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington DC were above 25 percent. Between 2013 and 2014, changes in child poverty were not consistent across states: while fourteen witnessed a decline in child poverty over the year, four experienced a significant increase. Looking over a longer period—from the end of the Great Recession in 2009 until 2014—twenty states had child poverty rates similar to those at the end of the Great Recession, and two states—Colorado and Montana—had rates that were lower. Worth noting, however, is that the poverty rate has not fallen below its pre-recession rate in any state (data available upon request).
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty Publication
A Demographic and Economic Profile of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin
In this brief, we present a demographic and economic profile of Duluth, MN, and Superior, WI, with a specific focus on families with children. The cities, situated at the western point of Lake Superior (see Figure 1), share a rich economic history as major ports for coal, iron ore, and grain. Each city is also home to numerous colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Demography, Vulnerable Families Research Program Demography, Economic Development, Poverty Publication
A Profile of Youth Poverty and Opportunity in Southwestern Minnesota
Like many rural communities across the United States, Southwestern Minnesota (hereafter SW Minnesota; see Box 1) has an aging population, evidenced by a growing share of seniors and a declining share of children and young adults, particularly among the non-Hispanic white population.1 As the population ages, it is also becoming more diverse, as racial-ethnic minority population is far younger, on average, than the non-Hispanic white population and contains a disproportionate share of children and young adults. Much of the growth in diversity is driven by an expanding population of immigrants. These residents, typically in their young working-age years, often establish themselves in SW Minnesota and go on to have families of their own. Research on the rural outmigration of the young and working non-Hispanic white population indicates that it is often the most promising youth and young adults who leave and seek opportunities elsewhere.2 At the same time, the aging population puts pressure on scarce resources, and the immigrant populations often face challenges including low education, lack of English language proficiency, and the inability to garner work authorization. It is against this demographic backdrop that we explore challenges and opportunities for youth in SW Minnesota. We analyze data on various demographic, economic, educational, and social indicators to gain a better understanding of the circumstances youth face and the opportunity available in SW Minnesota. Wherever possible, we compare conditions in SW Minnesota to the state as a whole and to the entire nation.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Education, Income, Poverty Publication
Although Child Poverty Declined in 2014, Persistent Racial and Ethnic Disadvantages Remain
Poverty data from the American Community Survey were released on September 17, 2015, allowing a detailed examination of poverty in 2014 across the United States. These data reveal that child poverty has fallen slightly in the last year yet the longer term pattern of high child poverty persists. The levels of child poverty vary enormously along racial and ethnic lines though all groups have seen a recent drop. Similarly, declines are generally evident across place type and region, and for both young children (under age 6) and older children (age 12–17). In this brief, we discuss changes in child poverty between 2013 and 2014 and since 2009, just after the Great Recession ended. We next explore racial-ethnic variation in child poverty in the United States, paying particular attention to patterns by Census region as well as by child age and place type (rural, suburban, city residence). Additionally, we look at how the racial-ethnic composition of poor children compares to that of nonpoor children. Finally, we consider which racial and ethnic groups are, on average, deepest in poverty, with the biggest gap between family income and the poverty threshold. Changes Between 2013 and 2014 Child poverty declined modestly between 2013 and 2014, from 22.3 percent to 21.7 percent (see Table 1), and roughly 400,000 fewer children across the United States lived in poverty in 2014. Yet more than one in five children still live in families with incomes below the official poverty threshold: $24,008 for a family of two adults and two children in 2014 (see Box 1).1 Child poverty declined in all place types, with the largest decline in rural America, where the rate fell by a full percentage point. Poverty also declined among young children (0.9 percentage point) and in all regions except the Northeast (where child poverty remained constant), with the largest declines in the West (0.8 percentage point). Those in the other race/multiracial category experienced the largest declines (1.1 percentage points), followed by Hispanics and Asians (0.7 percentage point each), blacks and non-Hispanic whites (0.6 percentage point each).
Vulnerable Families Research Program African Americans, Children, Poverty Publication
Beginning Teachers Are More Common in Rural, High-Poverty, and Racially Diverse Schools
This brief considers whether the concentration of beginning teachers in a district is associated with the district's poverty rate, racial composition, or urbanicity.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Education, Poverty, Rural Publication
Carsey Perspective: Is the Poverty Rate 1.1 Percent?
Poverty in the United States is a multifaceted problem with causes as diverse as the 46.7 million people who live in it and solvable only through a suite of solutions.1 Those 46.7 million people constituted 14.8 percent of the population of the United States in 2014,2 which both shocks the conscience for such a wealthy country and suggests a challenge of intimidating magnitude. On the other hand, while the number of people is daunting, the dollar amount involved is less so. We estimate that those living in poverty in 2014 in the United States were $192 billion short of the poverty line. In other words, the sum total it would take to raise all poor families to the poverty line is $192 billion. That isn’t a small sum, of course. But it is only 1.1 percent of our nation’s $17.3 trillion of national income in 2014.3 Thus, while 14.8 percent of the population lives in poverty, to raise them out of poverty would require raising their income by only 1.1 percent of total national income. Figure 1 and 2 That’s not to say that there’s a magic wand to make this happen. Proposals to address poverty have been put forward from many quarters. They all deserve consideration on their merits, but resignation to the inevitability of poverty because of the magnitude of the problem is not a reason for inaction. After all, most other economically advanced countries have lower rates of poverty than the United States.4 So poverty in otherwise well-off nations is not a foregone conclusion. One additional note: of the $192 billion in income increase that’s needed, $160 billion is needed in metropolitan areas, $30 billion in rural areas. Methodology Data for this project are from the 2015 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS). All income questions in the ASEC refer to 2014, the most recent year for which data are available. The ASEC is conducted every March and is the source of the U.S. Census Bureau’s official poverty estimates. The official poverty measure (OPM) is a family-level construct. Total family income is compared to a poverty threshold based on family size and number of children. Families with total incomes below their assigned threshold are considered poor, or in poverty. If a family is categorized as poor, then all people in the family are considered poor.5
Vulnerable Families Research Program Poverty Publication
Cause for Optimism? Child Poverty Declines for the First Time Since Before the Great Recession
New data released on September 18, 2014, by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that child poverty fell by 0.4 percentage point between 2012 and 2013, to 22.2 percent. Though still significantly higher than in 2007 when the Great Recession hit (18.0 percent), and higher than at its conclusion (20.0 percent) in 2009, the decline from 2012 may be cause for optimism. Estimates suggest the number of poor children declined by roughly 300,000 between 2012 and 2013.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty Publication
Challenges in Serving Rural American Children through the Summer Food Service Program
When the school year ends, many low-income children rely on the USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to supplement their diet. But less than one-third of SFSP sites are located in rural communities and rural children participate at a lower rate than those in more urban areas.
Socioeconomic Indicators and Datasets, Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Food Assistance, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net Publication
Child Care Expenses Push Many Families Into Poverty
How often are low-income families pushed into poverty by their child care expenses? In this fact sheet, we use the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to assess the extent to which child care expenses are pushing families with young children into poverty. Nearly one-third (30.4 percent) of families with young children are poor. To fall under the SPM poverty line means that a family’s income would be less than $26,000 a year on average, with variations by family composition and geographic location. Among poor families with young children, 12.3 percent incur child care expenses according to our analyses of the SPM. For families earning this little income, child care expense can be a burden. Of those who pay for child care, nearly one in ten (9.4 percent) are poor (Figure 1). Roughly one third of these poor families are pushed into poverty by child care expenses. This represents an estimated 207,000 families.1 Among families with young children who pay for child care, those with three or more children, those headed by a single parent, those with black or Hispanic household heads, and those headed by someone with less than a high school degree or by someone who does not work full time are most often pushed into poverty by child care expenses. Notably, these are also the families that tend to have the highest rates of poverty.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Child Care, Children, Poverty Publication