Education

Report: Economy improves, but not for California's poor kids

FILE: Children take part in a music class at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Compton on Dec. 5, 2014 as part of a program that brings arts education to high-poverty schools. A new report finds child poverty is unchanged despite the economic recovery.
FILE: Children take part in a music class at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Compton on Dec. 5, 2014 as part of a program that brings arts education to high-poverty schools. A new report finds child poverty is unchanged despite the economic recovery.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Listen to story

00:51
Download this story 0MB

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that despite better job numbers and consumer spending nationwide, the lot of poor children has not improved. 

The findings are based on data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, a comprehensive population snapshot used to understand demographic changes between census years.

The numbers are stark: One in five children live in poverty, according to the report, and it’s most harshly felt by children of color. Black (38 percent), Latino (32 percent) and Native American (36 percent) children have about a one in three chance of being poor. For white and Asian kids, it's 13 percent. 

In 24 states, the lot of poor children did improve slightly between 2013 and 2014, but in California, progress has been stagnant.

About 900,000 children, 10 percent of the state’s children, remain classified as living in "extreme poverty." This classification is defined as a family of two adults and two children with household earnings of no more than $11,812.

There was some good news: for the youngest age group of Californians, the numbers did improve slightly. The data show that the portion of children under 5 in California living in poverty dropped from 25 percent to 23 percent. That's 45,000 children who moved just above the official poverty line. 

The states that did the best job of lifting children out of poverty with the largest declines in child poverty were Mississippi, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Arkansas and Montana. In the other direction, Alaska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Hawaii, Vermont and Minnesota all had more children fall into poverty in 2014.