U.S. Child Poverty Is On The Rise

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A big new report shows one in four children in America lives in poverty. We ask why and look at solutions.

Children play basketball at a park in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Children play basketball at a park in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The latest numbers out of a big new national survey find almost one in four American children is now living in poverty. In the worst state, New Mexico, it’s 30 percent.

Even in an era of recession, these are deeply troubling numbers. For individual children, they mean deprivation in ways that can shape, limit an entire life. All this in an era when upward mobility has shut down.

For a country, it’s a tough indicator on the future.

This hour, On Point: Facing and fixing child poverty. What would it take?
-- Tom Ashbrook


Laura Speer, director of the national KIDS COUNT project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (@laurabmore)

Kristin Seefeldt, professor of social work and researcher at the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. She's the author of "Working After Welfare" and "America’s Poor and the Great Recession."

Ron Haskins, senior fellow in economic studies and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. He's the senior editor of “The Future of Children,” a journal on policy issues that affect children and families, and former senior advisor to President Bush on Welfare Policy. He's also the author of "Creating an Opportunity Society," "Work Over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law" and "Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America."

Interview Highlights

"23 percent of children are now living in households with incomes below the poverty line, which is about $22,000 for a family of four."

Laura Speer

From Tom's Reading List

Annie E. Casey Foundation: 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends In Child Well-Being -- "The child poverty rate increased to 23 percent in 2011, two years after the recession had ended. Even more disturbing is the fact that the poverty rate for very young children — those under 3 years old — was 26 percent." (PDF)

The Wall Street Journal: Who Makes Up the ‘Working Poor’ in America? -- "Roughly 46 million people in the U.S., or 15% of the population, lived below the official poverty line in 2011 ($11,484 for an individual or $23,021 for a family of four per year). About 10.4 million of them are considered part of the 'working poor.' That means they spent at least half the year in the labor force (working or looking for work), but they still fell below the poverty level."

The New York Times: The Microeconomics Of Poverty Since 2007 -- "Government safety net programs were put on steroids by the 2009 stimulus law, erasing incentives for a significant fraction of the unemployed."

This program aired on June 25, 2013.


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