Measures of poverty,6 secure parental employment, and food insecurity offer insight into children's material well-being and the economic factors which shape their health and development.
In 2010, 22 percent of children ages 0–17 (16.4 million) lived in poverty. This is up from a low of 16 percent in 2000 and 2001. Consistent with expectations related to the economic downturn, child poverty has increased annually since 2006, when the rate was 17 percent.
In 2010, 39 percent of Black, non-Hispanic children, 35 percent of Hispanic children, and 12 percent of White, non-Hispanic children lived in poverty.7 Young children were more likely to live in poverty than older children. In 2010, one in four children ages 0–5 lived in poverty, compared with one child in five for those ages 6–17.
For children living in female-householder families, the poverty rate was 47 percent in 2010, an increase from 45 percent in 2009 (Figure 4). The poverty rate was 57 percent for Hispanic children in female-householder families, 53 percent for Black, non-Hispanic children, and 36 percent for White, non-Hispanic children. For children living in male-householder families, the poverty rate was 29 percent in 2010, not statistically different from 2009.
NOTE: In 2010, the poverty threshold for a two-parent, two-child family was $22,113. Historically, the proportion of children in male-householder families has been small. Select data for this group are available as part of Detailed Tables at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/index.html.
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.
In 2010, 10 percent of children lived in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty threshold (a value of $11,057 for a family of four). This estimate is the highest since 1994. About 20 percent of Black, non-Hispanic children, 15 percent of Hispanic children, and 5 percent of White, non-Hispanic children lived in families with incomes below one-half of the poverty threshold in 2010.
Secure parental employment reduces the incidence of poverty and its attendant risks to children. The percentage of children with at least one parent working year round, full time fell to 71 percent in 2010, down from 72 percent in 2009 and the lowest since 1993 (Figure 5). Only 41 percent of children in families maintained by a single mother had a parent who worked year round, full time in 2010, down from 44 percent in 2009. Black, non-Hispanic children and Hispanic children were less likely than White, non-Hispanic children to have a parent working year round, full time. About 61 percent of Hispanic children and 53 percent of Black, non-Hispanic children lived in families with secure parental employment in 2010, compared with 79 percent of White, non-Hispanic children.
SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.
Another measure of economic well-being is a family's ability to put enough nutritious food on the table. A household that is food secure has access at all times to enough food for active, healthy lives for all family members. Food-insecure households lack consistent access to adequate food. About 22 percent of children lived in households that were food insecure at times in 2010, down from 23 percent in 2009.8 About 1.3 percent of children lived in households with very low food security9 among children at times in 2010, unchanged from 2009.
The prevalence of food insecurity varied by household income in 2010. Among children living in households with incomes below the poverty threshold, 44 percent were in food-insecure households. About 32 percent of children with household incomes between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty threshold were in food-insecure households, and 9 percent of children with household incomes at or above 200 percent of the poverty line lived in food-insecure households.
6 Following Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive 14, poverty status is determined by comparing a family's (or an unrelated individual's) income to one of 48 dollar amounts called thresholds. The thresholds vary by the size of the family and the members' ages. In 2010, the poverty threshold for a family with two adults and two children was $22,113. For details, see http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/index.html.
7 In this survey, respondents were asked to choose one or more races. All race groups discussed in this paragraph refer to people who indicated only one racial identity. Hispanic children may be of any race.
8 The food security status of households is assessed based on self-reports of difficulty in obtaining enough food, reduced food intake, reduced diet quality, and anxiety about an adequate food supply. In some households classified as food insecure, only adults' diets and food intakes were affected, but in a majority of such households, children's eating patterns were also disrupted to some extent, and the quality and variety of their diets were adversely affected. See Nord, M. (2009). Food insecurity in households with children: Prevalence, severity, and household characteristics (Economic Information Bulletin No. 56). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Retrieved from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB56/.
9 In households classified as having very low food security among children, a parent or guardian reported that at some time during the year one or more children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because the household could not afford enough food.