More than 1 in 5 U.S. children poor, Census says

Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:31pm EST
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of children in the United States considered poor rose by 1 million in 2010, the U.S. Census said Thursday, with more than one in five of the youngest Americans now living in poverty.

"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," the Census said.

In 2010, when the Census survey was conducted, 21.6 percent of children across the country were poor, compared to 20 percent in 2009.

That was mainly due to a rise in the number of children living below the federal poverty threshold, defined as an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four, to 15.7 million from 14.7 million in 2009.

The figures reflect the overall state of the economy. The national poverty rate stands at 15.3 percent and the unemployment rate is at 9 percent some two years after the recession that began in 2007 officially ended.

The number of people living in poverty has reached an all-time high in the United States, despite the country's position as one of the wealthiest in the world. Its gross domestic product per capita of $47,184 was 3,095 percent more than India's $1,477 in 2010.

In 24 states and Washington, D.C., more than 20 percent of those up to 17 years old lived at or below the poverty threshold.


The Census found that the percentage of white children in poverty increased in 25 states in 2010 from the year before.   Continued...

<p>A woman plays with a baby as they wait to go into a "Back-to-School" giveaway at the Fred Jordan Mission in Los Angeles, California October 6, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>