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National Child Poverty Rate Drops; Still Higher Than 2007: Small Relief for Black Children

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

For More Information Contact:

Patti Hassler
Vice President of Communications and Outreach
202-662-3554 office

National Child Poverty Rate Drops; Still Higher Than 2007: Small Relief for Black Children

First Rise in Median Family Income since 2007: Black Families with Children Lag Behind

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Census Bureau data released today reveal 43.1 million poor people in America in 2015, 3.5 million fewer than 2014, but higher than before the recession began in 2007. One in three is a child. Children remain the poorest age group in America, with more than 14.5 million poor, one million fewer than in 2014. Although the child poverty rate decreased by 6.6 percent from 21.1 percent to 19.7 percent in 2015, the number of poor children remains stubbornly high. The Black child poverty rate dropped by 11 percent in 2015, after rising 10 percent in 2014, however with nearly one in three Black children in poverty, the odds continue to be stacked against their success.

“While we celebrate that one million children were lifted out of poverty in 2015, America must stop having two classes of children, with millions living in third world conditions,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of Children’s Defense Fund. “It is a national moral disgrace that millions of poor children languish and fall behind in this rich land of opportunity for some. We can and must end child poverty by expanding and investing in programs we know work. That’s what national leaders need to be talking about and doing. We all need to vote in November and then hold them accountable for their action or inaction to end child poverty now.”

The more than 6.5 million extremely poor children exceeds the combined populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. The youngest children are the poorest during years of rapid brain development; the damage can last a lifetime. Research shows children growing up poor are less likely to succeed in school, to grow up healthy, and more likely to be poor as adults. More than 1 in 5 children under age 5 are poor; nearly half of them live in extreme poverty on $33 a day for a family of four.

Seventy percent of poor children are children of color, already 48 percent of our public school students, and the majority of children under 5. The median income gaps for families with children underscore the inequality of available economic resources and the denial of equal opportunity for all. The median income in the United States increased for the first time since 2007. However the median income of $39,371 for Black families with children was still less than half the median income of $82,969 for White families with children in 2015.

Poverty is defined as an annual income below $24,257 for an average family of four, or less than $2,021 a month, or $66.46 a day. Extreme poverty is half of the annual poverty level, or less than $12,129 for a family of four.

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The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.