The Sad Stats on Kids in Poverty

The unemployment rate is dismally high at 9.6% and last month alone, one in every 411 homes foreclosed and 127,000 Americans filed for bankruptcy. But no one feels the sting of our economic troubles more than those living below the poverty line.

Poverty is rising in the U.S., and children and families in some areas have it worse than others.

Nationwide, 18% of children – that’s 13.2 million kids - lived in poverty in 2008, notes the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization that recently ranked states based on 2008 U.S. Census data (the most recent available), plus more recent statistics on children and families.

That’s an increase of about 1 million children nationwide living below the poverty line since the year 2000, according to the foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book, which provides analysis and rankings on elements that affect kids’ well-being.

Before we tell you which states have the most children living in poverty, let’s start with some background.

Defining Poverty

In 2008, poverty was considered an income below $21,834 for a family of two adults and two children. Currently, having an income of less than $22,050 for a family of four labels them as impoverished. The poverty line is a flat number for the 48 contiguous states, while the lines for Alaska and Hawaii are a bit higher, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

And while cost of living can vary widely by state, modest breadwinners may agree that feeding, housing and clothing a family of four with $424 or less per week anywhere in America can be challenging.

Unfortunately, while there are a few indications that the economy and the job market are improving, many experts predict the number of kids in poverty will rise when the Census Bureau releases new data later this year, the foundation says.

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