Nearly one in four American children in poverty, report finds

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Nearly one in four American children is living in poverty despite national gains in health and education, according to a report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, accounting for data through 2011.

The national poverty rate among children stood at 23% in 2011, or 16.4 million children, the report found. The 2011 data represented an increase of more than three million children in the past six years.

As the nation struggles to navigate the lingering effects of the recession, including a still-significant unemployment rate (7.6% in May of this year), the effect of long-term unemployment is evident. The number of children whose parents lacked secure employment increased by 20% between 2008 and 2011.

The numbers are even more stark for African-American, Latino and American Indian kids. The report found that 37% have parents lacking full-time work, compared to 32% of the overall population.

While children represent a quarter of the country's population, they account for a third of all people in poverty, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty. The organization reported that 22% of children live in poor families, defined as $22,350 for a family of four,$18,530 for a family of three and $14,710 for a family of two. And the report says 45% of children live in low-income families earning about twice the amount of poor families--while research indicates families need an income of about three times the federal poverty level to adequately meet their basic needs.