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Child poverty is declining, but there’s still a long way to go

SHARE Child poverty is declining, but there’s still a long way to go

Child poverty has been on an incremental decline over the past decade, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

“Overall, 20 percent of children in the U.S., or 14.7 million, lived in poverty in 2013 – down from 22 percent, or 16.3 million, in 2010,” Pew’s Eileen Patten and Jens Manuel Krogstad wrote Tuesday.

But the report notes one demographic that hasn't benefitted from recent efforts to curb childhood poverty. Poverty among black children, according to Pew, has “held steady” since 2010.

“Black children were almost four times as likely as white or Asian children to be living in poverty in 2013,” Patten and Krogstad reported, “and significantly more likely than Hispanic children.”

As the chart below shows, the number of black children in poverty may be higher than the number of white children (although the number is close enough to be considered “not statistically significant"). According to Pew, this is the first time this has happened since the Census Bureau began recording such data in the 1970s.

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As I reported last May, research by The Brookings Institution has also found that black communities face a particularly troublesome economic situation in the United States. Black children born into middle class homes, for example, are more likely than white middle class children to be downwardly mobile. The BI also found that, for the most part, black wealth hardly even exists.

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The widespread economic struggles in black communities are believed to be an important factor in much of the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore.

While there is continuing debate over the reasons why black Americans are becoming increasingly economically vulnerable, as The Wire’s Philip Bump pointed out in April last year, the fact that it’s gotten worse is undeniable.

“In 2012, 35 percent of blacks lived in poverty, compared to 13 percent of whites,” Bump wrote. “In 1970, those rates were 33.6 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Poverty in the black community is higher, and has been consistently.”

JJ Feinauer is a writer for Deseret News National. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.