Poverty affects approximately 42.6 million Americans, 13.4 million of them are children. While the poverty rate nationwide is 13.4%, the child poverty rate is 18.4%.
Childhood poverty in the United States has been on the decline in recent years, but it remains a serious issue. Generally, children are more vulnerable to poverty than adults. Americans under 18 represent about 22% of the population but account for 31.4% of all people living in poverty.
Children depend on their parents or guardians to provide them with their essential needs, and so families with children must earn higher wages to avoid poverty. Based on the official government threshold, a household of two adults and no children must have an income of at least $15,877 to stay out of poverty, whereas a family of two parents and two children must earn over $24,858 to avoid poverty. The larger the family — the more children in a household — the larger the income needed to stay out of poverty.
To identify how many children live in poverty in each state, 24/7 Wall St. retrieved Census Bureau data on income and poverty from the 2017 1-year American Community Survey. The share of children living in poverty was calculated by dividing the amount of residents ages 0-17 who live in poverty by the total number of children living in the state.
Not surprisingly, the states with the lowest incomes have some of the highest shares of children living in poverty. For example, the 10 states with the lowest median annual household incomes — all below the national median annual household income of $60,336 — also have the 10 highest child poverty rates of any state.
Educational attainment is one of the greatest predictors of expected earnings, and states where child poverty is more common tend to have lower educational attainment among adults. Children whose parents are unemployed are also much more likely to live in poverty, and the states where the largest shares of children live in poverty tend to have among the highest unemployment rates.