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KWIC Indicator Narrative

Children and Youth Living Below Poverty

Data Provider: NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

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Related Indicators:

Life Area:

Economic Security

Definition:

Individuals are considered to be living in poverty in those instances where their family income before taxes (i.e., gross, pre-tax, cash income) does not exceed the poverty threshold (i.e., minimum resources an individual or family of a given size needs to meet their basic needs).

The Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as well as the value of non-cash benefits such as public housing, SNAP, Medicaid or school meals are not included when calculating family income. In addition, certain costs such as taxes and work-related expenses are not subtracted from family income in determining the number of children who are poor.

Since it was developed in the early 1960s based on the cost of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economy Food Plan, the official poverty threshold has been updated annually by the change in the Consumer Price Index. In 2018, the official poverty threshold was $25,100 for a two-adult, two-child family and $20,780 for a one adult, two-child family.

Significance:

The poverty rate measures the percentage of children living in families considered to have too little income to meet basic needs. Poverty in childhood is associated with a wide range of social, educational, health and future employment problems.

Note:

There is much controversy concerning where the poverty line should be drawn and what family income and resources should count in determining if a family is above or below that line. As a result, the number of children in poverty should not be considered a precise measure of how many children lack the income and resources required to meet basic needs. Instead, the poverty measure should be used to assess the relative differences between counties in the number of children near or below the minimum required to meet basic needs, as well as to examine trends over time within counties in the number of children living with minimal economic resources.

Findings:

  • In 2016, the percent of persons under 18 in poverty was 20.8 percent. The highest rate of child poverty occurred in Bronx County, at 39.8 percent. The lowest rate was in Putnam County, at 6.4 percent.
  • While the child poverty rate in New York City was 10.5 percentage points higher than the remainder of the state (26.8 versus 16.3 percent, respectively), high child poverty rates approaching those for New York City occurred in relatively rural counties. Chautauqua, Delaware, Franklin and Montgomery all had a rate of 26 percent or above.
  • From 2010 to 2016, the child poverty rate has dropped from 21.5 percent to 20.8 percent, a statistically significant decrease, although the  child poverty rate remains above pre-recession levels.

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