Our Future in Poverty

Recession's Ongoing Impact on ChildrenThe impact of the recession continues to be felt by America’s children, according to a new Brookings study. In two of three indicators — people on food stamps and child poverty — children’s economic well-being has deteriorated.

“One positive trend is that the number of children with an unemployed parent is lower than a year ago,” according to the study’s executive summary. “However, SNAP [food stamp] caseloads continue to rise, and, according to the predictions presented here, child poverty also continues to rise….

“As policy makers engage in debates about government spending, it is important to recognize that many families with children have not yet recovered from the recession and are in greater need of government assistance than in normal economic times.”

A look at the three indicators for Southern states:

Children with an unemployed parent. Kids in Florida are among states with the highest number of unemployed parents, particularly those unemployed for six months or more. According to the report, eight of 11 Southern states had a higher percentage of children with one unemployed parent than the national average:

  • Alabama: 107,500 children — 10 percent
  • Arkansas: 55,000 children — 8 percent
  • Florida: 368,000 children — 10 percent
  • Georgia: 244,800 children — 10 percent
  • Kentucky: 90,800 children — 10 percent
  • Louisiana: 81,600 children — 8 percent
  • Mississippi: 74,200 children — 10 percent
  • North Carolina: 218,000 children — 10 percent
  • South Carolina: 99,000 children — 10 percent
  • Tennessee: 142,600 children — 10 percent
  • Virginia: 119,000 children — 7 percent
  • National average — 9 percent

Individuals receiving SNAP benefits. From 2007 to 2011, the number of people receiving help through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), which used to be called food stamps, rose 70 percent nationally. Rates in the South, which already had a significant number of children receiving aid due to endemic poverty, rose lower than the national rate in seven of 11 states:

  • Alabama: 871,000 recipients in 2011 — 61 percent higher in 2011 than 2007
  • Arkansas: 483,000 recipients — 28 percent higher
  • Florida: 3.1 million recipients — 153 percent higher
  • Georgia: 1.8 million recipients — 88 percent higher
  • Kentucky: 822,000 recipients — 37 percent higher
  • Louisiana: 879,000 recipients — 36 percent higher
  • Mississippi: 617,000 recipients — 46 percent higher
  • North Carolina: 1.6 million recipients — 80 percent higher
  • South Carolina: 841,000 recipients — 56 percent higher
  • Tennessee: 1.3 million recipients — 48 percent higher
  • Virginia: 855,000 recipients — 67 percent higher

Child poverty. Child poverty grew in every Southern state when the rates before and after the recession are compared. Before the recession, Virginia, Georgia and Florida were the only states not in high poverty status, but in 2009, Georgia and Florida fell into high poverty status. Take a look at the report for more information on increasing child poverty across the South.

More: “The Recession’s Ongoing Impact on America’s Children: Indicators of Children’s Economic Well-being through 2011,” Julia B. Isaacs, Brookings, Dec. 2011.

Andy Brack

Andy Brack

Andy Brack is a syndicated columnist in South Carolina and the publisher of StatehouseReport.com. Brack, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also publishes a twice-weekly newsletter about good news in the Charleston area, CharlestonCurrents.com. A former U.S. Senate press secretary and reporter, Brack has a national reputation as a communications strategist and Internet pioneer. Brack also is president and chairman of the Center for a Better South, a nonprofit regional think tank. Brack received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. He, his wife, two daughters and dogs live in Charleston, S.C.