ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Children’s Defense Fund analysis of new 2013 state data released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals child poverty rates remain at record high levels, and Mississippi leads the nation in impoverished children.
Children are the poorest age group, and the poorest are children of color and those under 6, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.
Two states, New Jersey and West Virginia, experienced increases in child poverty, while eight states experienced significant decreases from 2012. In 42 states child poverty remains at record high levels, significantly higher than in 2007 before the recession began.
The analysis found:
• In 20 states, more than 40 percent of black children are poor
• In 35 states, more than 30 percent of Hispanic children are poor
• In 21 states, more than 25 percent of children under 6 are poor
• In 19 states, more than 10 percent of children are extremely poor
• In 42 states, child poverty rates significantly higher than pre-recession
Mississippi led all states with a child poverty rate of 34.0 percent. Only New Mexico (31.2 percent) and Mississippi had a child poverty rate of more than 30 percent.
Seven of the top 10 states with the worst child poverty rate are located in the Southeast.
“Child poverty is a moral blight on America,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “That children are the poorest, most vulnerable age group is disgraceful and we must protect them with a national floor of decency. Children of color and those under six during the years of rapid brain development are the poorest. Five years into the recovery poor children in the majority of states still have not benefited. We need to make sure political leaders asking for our votes this campaign season make voiceless, vote-less children a priority. If we want to build a strong workforce, military and economy, we can and must end child poverty now.”
Poverty is defined as an annual income below $23,834 for an average family of four, or less than $1,986 a month, $458 a week, or $65 a day. Extreme poverty is defined as less than half of the annual poverty level, or less than $11,917 for a family of four.