More NC Children in Poverty

GirlHere’s a depressing headline if ever there was one: North Carolina’s child poverty rate has more than doubled from 2000 to 2010. The KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that after declining between 1990 and 2000, both the percent and the number of children living in high-poverty areas increased over the last decade.

While two-thirds of children living in areas of concentrated poverty are in large cities, millions live outside urban areas in suburbs and rural communities. Overall, children living in rural areas (10 percent) and large cities (22 percent) are considerably more likely than those in suburbs (4 percent) to live in a community of concentrated poverty.

Among the country’s 50 largest cities, Detroit (67 percent), Cleveland (57 percent), Miami (49 percent), Milwaukee (48 percent), Fresno (43 percent), and Atlanta (43 percent) have the highest rates of children living in areas of concentrated poverty.

Although there are pockets of concentrated poverty across the country, children in southern and southwestern states are most likely to live in these disadvantaged areas. The states with the highest rates are Mississippi (23 percent), New Mexico (20 percent), Louisiana (18 percent), Texas (17 percent) and Arizona (16 percent). Most states saw an increase in the percentage of children living in concentrated poverty over the last decade. Only eight states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia experienced declines over this period.

While North Carolina was not alone in our explosion of children living in poverty, we most certainly were not moving in the right direction. Other states were able to lower their percentages in the same timeframe, so it’s not crazy to suggest the possibility. Is this really the direction we want to be headed?