According to census data released yesterday, about two million children lived in poverty in California last year and the poverty rate for black children actually increased between 2013 and 2014.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau data:
- 2.05 million California children lived below the federal poverty in 2014, accounting for 22.7% of all children in the state;
- Poverty rates for minorities are higher, with 36.5% of black children and 30.7% of Latino children classified as poor;
- Overall, the child poverty rate declined, from 16.8% in 2013 to 16.4% in 2014; and
- The child poverty rate dropped by 6.2% for white children and 3.2% for Latino kids, but it climbed by 0.7% for black children.
On Thursday, the California Budget & Policy Center, a nonpartisan public policy research group, released an analysis of the census figures’ importance to California.
“Even with the year-to-year decline in poverty, the latest census figures point to widespread economic hardship in our state,” Chris Hoene, the group’s executive director, said in his analysis. “We must take a multifaceted, sustained approach to bringing prosperity within reach of far more Californians.”
That includes expansion of health coverage, Hoene said.
“State policymakers should work to continue reducing the number of Californians who lack health insurance, in particular by boosting coverage options for undocumented immigrants,” Hoene said. “This would build on the state’s tremendous progress to date in expanding coverage through the full implementation of federal health care reform.”
Alex Johnson, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-California, a not-for-profit advocacy group, said poverty has reached “crisis” proportions in the state.
“Growing up poor has lifetime negative consequences,” Johnson said. “Child poverty jeopardizes a child’s health and ability to learn and undermines their future economic success.”
Other measures to fight poverty, Johnson said, include raising the minimum wage, boosting child-care and affordable-housing funding and beefing up the state’s safety-net programs.