States Lifting the Most Children Out of Poverty

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15. New Mexico
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -47.9%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 14.4% (15th highest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 27.6% (10th highest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $328.41 (7th highest)

The child supplemental poverty rate in New Mexico is 14.4%, the 15th highest of any state. But while child poverty is worse in New Mexico than in a majority of states, it would be far worse without government assistance. The average household in New Mexico — with or without children — receives $2,358 a year from programs such as the SNAP, school lunch subsidies, and child tax credits, the most of any state. After factoring out the money from public programs, New Mexico’s supplemental child poverty rate rises to 27.6% — the 10th highest of any state.

In total, however, money from public programs reduces the number of children in poverty by 47.9% in New Mexico, the 15th highest improvement of any state and higher than the national figure. Nationwide, the number of children living in poverty improves by 41.8% thanks to public programs.

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14. Tennessee
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -48.0%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 13.7% (19th highest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 26.4% (12th highest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $271.00 (25th lowest)

Many of the states where public programs lift the most children out of poverty tend to be poorer states, where residents would have the greatest need for government assistance. After factoring out the effects of anti-poverty programs like food stamps, housing subsidies, and the child tax credit, Tennessee’s supplemental child poverty rate rises from 13.7% — the 19th highest of any state — to 26.4%, the 12th highest.

The average Tennessee household receives $1,809 in subsidies and tax credits a year, which helps reduce the total number of children in poverty in the state by 48.0%. The SNAP program accounts for 27.4% of all subsidies and tax credits Tennessee households receive, the sixth largest share of any state.

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13. New Hampshire
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -48.3%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 6.9% (the lowest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 13.4% (the lowest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $155.75 (the lowest)

While many of the states where public programs have the largest effect on child poverty are also the poorest, New Hampshire is relatively wealthy and has the lowest child poverty rate in the country. The supplemental child poverty rate in the Granite State of 6.9% is less than half the national rate of 14.6%. Without the effect of public programs such as SNAP, housing subsidies, and the child tax credit, the supplemental child poverty rate in New Hampshire nearly doubles to 13.4%. In total, government assistance reduces the number of children in poverty in the state by 48.3%, more than the 41.8% national reduction.

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12. Minnesota
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -48.7%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 8.0% (4th lowest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 15.6% (2nd lowest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $235.72 (11th lowest)

Minnesota is one of only four states that completely matches the federal child and dependent care tax credit for eligible families. Households with two or more children earning less than $25,750 a year can receive up to $1,440 in credits, and households with incomes up to $39,400 are eligible for smaller amounts.

Public programs reduce the number of children in poverty in Minnesota by 48.7%, more than the 41.8% national average. Assistance from the WIC program accounts for 4.0% of all subsidies and tax credits received in Minnesota, the largest share of any state. School lunch subsidies account for 14.2%, and housing subsidies for 15.9%, the seventh and ninth largest such shares, respectively.

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11. Ohio
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -48.8%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 11.8% (19th lowest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 23.1% (23rd highest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $280.67 (21st highest)

Because of financial assistance from public programs such as food stamps, lunch subsidies, and child tax credits, the supplemental child poverty rate is 11.8% in Ohio — the 19th lowest. Without government assistance, the supplemental childhood poverty rate in the state would be 23.1%, the 23rd highest. SNAP accounts for 27.2% of all government assistance dollars received in Ohio, far more than the 22.3% national share.

One reason for the large impact of government programs in Ohio is the high recipiency rate of public benefits. According to data from the Census Bureau’s ACS, some 23.6% of poor families in Ohio receive some form of public assistance income, the seventh largest share of any state.