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Majority of Newly Poor Americans are Children

Number of poor children hits 12.9 million 

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Dateline: August 31, 2004

The overwhelming majority of newly poor Americans are children, according to an analysis by the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) of recently released U.S. Census Bureau data. The data show a one-year increase of nearly three quarters of a million children living in poverty, bringing the total number of poor children to 12.9 million. This is a significant increase from the 12.1 million children living in poverty in 2002. The total number of people living in poverty rose by 1.3 million to 35.9 million.

"This tragic growth in child poverty reflects conscious and misguided political choices," said Marian Wright Edelman, President of CDF. "How can the Bush Administration and Congressional leaders continue to give enormous tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, while denying low-income working families and their children a modest minimum wage increase and refundable tax credits, and continue cutting the budgets for programs that assist poor children?"

Child poverty grew among all racial groups. Key findings from the Census data show:

  • Extreme child poverty grew 11.5 percent in one year.

  • Extreme poverty means living with annual incomes below $7,412 for a family of three.

  • Latino children suffered the largest increase among all racial groups: an additional 295,000 Latino children fell into poverty.

  • The four million Latino children now living in poverty represent 30 percent of all Latino children.

  • The number of Black children living in poverty increased by 232,000, meaning one in every three Black children is poor.

  • The number of White children living in poverty increased by 143,000.

  • Half a million of the newly poor children live in a household with a single mother.

    This year marks the second year in a row in which child poverty increased. Edelman noted that far less wealthy industrialized countries have committed to end child poverty, while the United States is sliding backwards. We can do better. We must demand that our leaders do better.

    [Source: Children's Defense Fund]

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