Special Report

Big Cities With the Worst Child Poverty Rates

More than 40 million Americans live below the poverty line – an income threshold of about $35 per day, or $1,073 a month. Of those facing such extreme financial hardship, children are disproportionately affected.

The United States has one of the worst child poverty rates among wealthy, developed countries – and nearly 12.6 million children and youth under age 18 live in households with poverty level income. Not only are children at higher risk of poverty, they are also especially vulnerable to poverty’s harmful effects, both in the immediate and long-term. 

Childhood poverty can negatively impact brain development and has been linked with a greater likelihood of chronic illness, shorter life expectancy, and poor emotional and behavioral health. Those who spend some or all of their childhood in poverty are also less likely to succeed in school or be financially secure later in life. 

Nationwide, an estimated 17.5% of children under age 18 live below the poverty line. This share varies from place to place, however, and in some parts of the country, child poverty is far more common than average. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 metropolitan areas with the highest child poverty rates. 

Among the places on this list, child poverty rates range from 25.3% to nearly 40%. The metro areas on the list are disproportionately concentrated in the South, including seven in Georgia alone. Here is a look at the income a family needs to cover normal living expenses in every state. 

Children raised in mother-only households are far more likely to live in poverty than those in two-adult households, and in nearly every metro area on this list, the share of households headed by single mothers exceeds the 11.7% share nationwide. Additionally, in nearly every metro area on this list, families are more likely to depend on government assistance to afford basic necessities. In all but one of these metro areas, the share of households with children receiving SNAP benefits, or food stamps, exceeds the 18.2% national share. Here is a look at the cities with the most people on food stamps.  

Click here to see the metro areas with the highest child poverty rates
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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