Nine percent of all U.S. children under the age of 9 – nearly one out of 10 – live in deep poverty, according to a report published in early November by the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP).

By comparison, 10% live in poverty and 22% in low-income households.

The analysis and findings are based on 2019 data, which means that the 2020 data will likely show an increase in child poverty due to the global pandemic, NCCP noted.

NCCP provided the following definitions:

  • Deep poverty: Below 50 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL)
  • Poverty: 50 percent to 99 percent of the FPL
  • Low income: 100 percent to 199 percent of the FPL
  • Non-poor: 200 percent or more of the FPL

The US federal poverty thresholds are set based on annual income and the number of people in a household. For a single parent with two children, NCCP’s deep poverty level in 2019 would be an annual household income of $10,289 or less.

Four U.S. states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico – and the District of Columbia had deep poverty rates of 13% or higher among children under age 9. Mississippi had the highest deep poverty rate at 17%.

Eleven states had rates at 10-12%, 20 states at 7-9% and 15 states at 4-6%. Nebraska and Utah tied for the lowest deep poverty rate among children under age 9 at 4%.

Nationwide, Asian children (3%) and white children (5%) were least likely to live in deep poverty. By comparison, 18% of Black children, 15% of American Indian and Native American children, and 11% of Hispanic / Latino children lived in deep poverty last year.

These national racial disparities were seen in state-level data, as well.

For example, North Dakota had the highest percentage of Black children under age 9 living in deep poverty at 39%, while only 3% of white children faced these circumstances. In South Dakota, 21% of Hispanic children lived in deep poverty in 2019, compared to only 3% of white children.

“Both a lack of material resources and parental stress associated with poverty have been identified as key pathways to worse health, developmental and school-related outcomes of poor children compared to their non-poor peers,” the report said.

“For all but a few of the indicators we compared across income groups, children in deep poverty were the most likely to experience early conditions and circumstances that make them vulnerable to future health, development and learning problems.”

The full report is available here.

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