(February 2005) Child poverty is well above the national average in both large cities and rural areas of the United States, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Based on figures from the 2000 Census, the KIDS COUNT Special Report: City and Rural KIDS COUNT Data Book presents measures of child well-being in America’s 71 largest cities and in the rural portion of 48 of the 50 states. (New Jersey and Rhode Island do not have any areas considered rural for purposes of the study.)
The report finds that the child poverty rate in both large cities (26 percent) and rural areas (20 percent) exceeds the national average of 17 percent. But both urban and rural children fared as well or better than all U.S. children in eight other measures, which address family structure, parental employment, housing affordability, and education.
For example, the report includes data for the percent of children without a vehicle at home, children without a telephone at home, and children living in low-income families that spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing.
The Data Book also finds that child poverty rates differ considerably among the states. For example, the child poverty rate in rural Louisiana (at 32 percent) is more than four times the poverty rate for children living in rural Connecticut (7 percent). But nearly 70 percent of low-income children in rural Connecticut live in families that spend 30 percent or more of income on housing, compared to 46 percent of such children in rural Louisiana. The rural national average is 48 percent.
And more than one-half of children in rural Alaska reside in families without full-time/year-round employment—the highest percentage of the rural areas studied and far above the national average of 32 percent. About 22 percent of Alaska’s children living in rural communities were also in households that did not have a vehicle at home.
Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, New Orleans has the highest share (41 percent) of children living in families with incomes below U.S. poverty thresholds. Virginia Beach has the lowest share of children living in poverty, at 9 percent.
And among large cities, Dallas has the highest percentage of teens ages 16 to 19 (25 percent) who are not enrolled in school and not high school graduates. Honolulu was lowest in this category, at 5 percent.
PRB compiled much of the data for the report and prepared the report’s appendices and definitions.
The KIDS COUNT Special Report: City and Rural KIDS COUNT Data Book is available online at www.kidscount.org. A Rural KIDS COUNT Pocket Guide and a City KIDS COUNT Pocket Guide are also available online.