Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Hispanics now make up the largest group of children living in poverty, the first time in U.S. history that poor white kids have been outnumbered by poor children of another race or ethnicity, according to a new study
In a report, the Pew Hispanic Center said that 6.1 million Hispanic children are poor, compared with 5 million non-Hispanic white children and 4.4 million black children. Pew said that Hispanic poverty numbers have soared because of the impact of the recession on the growing number of Latinos. The rise in childhood poverty is another signal of distress for the nation’s 50.5 million Hispanics, who have been hit harder by the bleak economy than any other group. They have one of the highest unemployment rates and saw their household wealth decline more steeply than either blacks or whites, largely because so many lost their houses to foreclosure. Though the recession is the largest single factor explaining the rise, the sheer number of Hispanics in the country and their high birth rates suggest that childhood poverty for Hispanics is not just a temporary bump in the road. The nation’s under-18 population would have declined over the past decade if it weren’t for Hispanics, and most places that grew in population had Hispanics, along with Asians, to thank. Though the number of poor Hispanic children is at a record high, black children have a higher rate of poverty — 39%, compared with 35% for Hispanic children. In contrast, the poverty rate for white children is about 12%. In the Washington region, almost every jurisdiction has experienced a rise in childhood poverty since the recession began in 2007, according to recently released census statistics. But the District has by far the highest rate, with almost one in three children growing up poor. In the District, 90% of more than 30,000 children living in poverty in 2010 were black, while 8% were Hispanic, and less than half a percent were white.In the suburbs, the highest poverty rates fluctuate between black and Latino kids. Before the recession, poor white children outnumbered poor Hispanic children in the United States. The recession thrust more children of all races and ethnicities into poverty, but none more than Hispanics. Their poverty rate increased about twice as fast as the rate for black children. The poverty rate among Hispanic children with immigrant parents was 40%, compared with 28% for Latino children whose parents were born in the United States.