Child, Young Adult Poverty Rates Stagnate: Census Data Show Millions Left Behind

September 12, 2018, Washington, DC—Poverty data for 2017 released today by the U.S. Census Bureau paint a bleak picture for low-income people struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families. After sharp improvements in the poverty rate over the last several years, the decline in poverty has come to a screeching halt. In 2017, nearly 40 million people (12.3 percent of the U.S. population) lived in poverty, about the same as in 2016. The story is even more bleak for children (0-17) and young adults (18-24) whose poverty rate was 17.5 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively. Children and young adults of color face even more challenging economic hardship—for example, almost one in three black children and fully one in four Hispanic children lives in poverty despite high levels of work among their families.

“We are deeply worried, particularly about the young people who represent our country’s future,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP. “The wellbeing of families is at stake, yet our policymakers are not responding. In fact, the data show that millions of people would have been even worse off if the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders had succeeded in their repeated efforts to undermine the public programs that support health, nutrition, and other basic needs. We must continue to reject those efforts and fight for health care, nutrition and economic supports, and good jobs. The health and wellbeing of today’s children and young adults are the foundation of tomorrow’s economic security.”

70 percent of all children in poverty live in a household with at least one worker. This means that economic security requires more than simply being employed. Rather, workers need living wages, stable and sufficient hours, and access to important work supports like high-quality child care, paid sick time, etc.

CLASP’s brief analyzing the 2017 poverty data and including policy recommendations is available here.

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CLASP is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions that work for low-income people. With nearly 50 years of trusted expertise, a deeply knowledgeable staff, and a commitment to practical yet visionary approaches to opportunity for all, CLASP lifts up the voices of poor and low-income children, families, and individuals, equips advocates with strategies that work, and helps public officials put good ideas into practice. The organization’s solutions directly address the barriers that individuals and families face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status, in addition to low income. For more information, visit www.clasp.org and follow @CLASP_DC.