Prosperity Watch, Issue 92, No. 4
Sept. 24, 2018
Last week, new data released from the U.S. Census Bureau highlighted the elevated rates of poverty experienced by children in North Carolina. According to the data, children in North Carolina experience poverty at a rate of 21.2 percent, making N.C. the 11th highest state in the nation for child poverty. Unlike the overall poverty rate for the state, which has returned to pre-Recession levels, the child poverty rate remains elevated, virtually unchanged from last year.

The data also highlights that not all children experience poverty equally. In 2017, 23.7 percent of children under the age of five lived in homes with incomes below the federal poverty level ($24,600 for a family of four). When broken down by race, the true disparities of what children are experiencing comes to light. Children of color experience poverty at a rate of 32.8 percent, compared to only 11.5 percent of white children. Native and Latinx children under the age of five experience poverty at 62.2 and 36.6 percent, respectively – higher than any other subgroup or demographic.

In addition to racial disparities, geography also played a large role in which children were in poverty. Children in rural counties and in the Eastern part of the state were far more likely to live in struggling households.

Rising costs of child care and health care, few rights for workers with children, and the erosion of social supports are all contributors to North Carolina’s elevated levels of childhood poverty. If North Carolina wants to build a strong economy for tomorrow, it must start by investing in the well-being of its children.