Child poverty charts of the day

By Felix Salmon
November 18, 2011
new report on child poverty in America.

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These charts come from the Census Bureau’s new report on child poverty in America. The first one shows how it has been increasing rapidly since the recession hit — the crisis might have been caused by Wall Street, but it has had its most devastating effects among poor and blameless children.

poverty2.tiff

This is a huge increase: between 2008 and 2010, the number of children in poverty increased by 3.2 percentage points, from 18.4% to 21.6%. Which means the number of children in poverty increased by more than 17%, to 15.7 million.

It’s worth mentioning that these are apples-to-apples comparisons using the old poverty figures rather than the new ones, and the new poverty figures show a lower child poverty rate. Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, the number of children in poverty is “only” 13.6 million. But I’m reasonably sure that if and when that measure gets calculated for 2008 and 2009, it’ll show a rate of increase just as high as we’re seeing in the old one. And I doubt the distribution across the country would be any different, either:

distribution.tiff

Does anybody, this election season, have a plan for reducing the rate of child poverty, especially in the south? In ten different states, including Texas, one child in every four is born into poverty. This is obviously unacceptable — but it’s equally obviously being swept beneath the political carpet. Not only don’t poor kids vote, their parents don’t tend to vote much either. And few of them live in swing states. And, fixing this kind of thing takes far more political capital than anybody seems to have spare right now. So expect the child-poverty crisis to continue to get worse rather than better. No matter what happens to the economy as a whole.

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