U.S. families with children experiencing more poverty, job insecurity

BY Kyla Calvert  July 22, 2014 at 3:35 PM EST
An annual report on child well-being shows 23 percent of American children were living at or below the federal poverty line in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2005. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives

An annual report on child well-being shows 23 percent of American children were living at or below the federal poverty line in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2005. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives

More children in the United States were living in financially strapped households in 2012 than in 2005 before the economic downturn, according to an annual report on child well-being from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report shows 23 percent of American children were living at or below the federal poverty line in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2005. Thirty-one percent of children had parents without secure employment, compared to 27 percent four years earlier. The portion of children whose families paid more than 30 percent of their pre-tax incomes toward housing ticked up too, from 37 in 2005 to 38 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, the report’s authors lauded gains in educational and health measures for the country’s children during the same seven year period.

Mothers gave birth to fewer low-birth weight babies and more children were covered by health insurance. More 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in preschool, 46 percent compared to 44 percent in 2005. A third of fourth graders were proficient in reading and the same percentage of eighth graders was proficient in math. While those numbers may not seem high, they’re up from 30 and 28 percent in 2005, respectively.

Even in Massachusetts — rated as the best state for overall child well-being — poverty rates and lack of secure employment rose in households with children. In fact, rates of childhood poverty declined only in Alaska, South Dakota, West Virginia and Washington, DC, while parent job insecurity increased in all states but Vermont, North Dakota and Washington, DC.