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Children in Poverty: How Are Kids in Your State Faring?

The latest numbers on poverty among U.S. children are so striking that they make you do a double take.

In 2009, 31 million kids were living in families with incomes below twice the federal poverty threshold.

That’s 42 percent of the kids in the United States who are just a few of mom’s or dad’s paychecks away from economic catastrophe, says Patrick McCarthy, CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which released the statistics this week as part of its latest Kids Count study.

Nearly 8 million children in 2010 were living with at least one parent who was unemployed.

You can explore more of the findings focused on children and families here. And there’s plenty of other data to pore over — about disturbing trends at the national level and what’s happening in your state. We took our own look at the data to explore how the childhood poverty figures have changed from 2000 to 2009:

More than 2 million more children dropped below the poverty line in the last decade, bringing those levels back to what they were in the late 1990s.

“The biggest thing that caught our eye is the percentage of children living in poverty that has been increasing,” McCarthy said. “In 2009, 20 percent of children were in poverty and we suspect that in 2010 and 2011 we’ll see even greater increases. The gains that children made in the 1990s were wiped out by the recession.”

Watch a preview of a conversation between McCarthy and Judy Woodruff, who just blogged about the U.S. income gap:

Moreover, says McCarthy, poverty is having an impact on children’s abilities to prosper over time.

“Recent research shows that children who slip into poverty have a tougher time, rougher time to complete school,” he said. “They are more likely to be held back, less likely to be employed. That’s something you see in research of the last four recessions (not counting the most recent one) — even controlling for where kids started out in a better socioeconomic level — those who slipped out of their income level fell educationally.”

On Tuesday’s Newshour, Paul Solman presented some people in New York with a quiz that had some surprising answers about the growing income divide between America’s rich and poor:

File photo by AFP/Getty Images.

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