Saturday, July 18, 2009
By Annie Gowen
The Washington Post via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WASHINGTON -- A growing number of American children are living in poverty and with unemployed parents, and are facing the threat of hunger, according to a new federal report released yesterday.
According to "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being," 18 percent of all children 17 and under were living in poverty in 2007 -- up from 17 percent in 2006. The percentage of children who had at least one parent working full time was 77 percent in 2007 -- down from 78 percent in 2006. And those living in households with extremely low "food security" -- where parents described children as being hungry or having skipped a meal or gone without eating for an entire day -- increased from 0.6 percent in 2006 to 0.9 percent in 2007, the report said.
Federal officials said the statistics released this week pre-date the current economic downturn and forecast darker times for the country's 74 million children 17 and under, when data on children's lives during the recession become available.
"It foreshadows greater changes we'll see when we look at these figures next year," said Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Heath, one of the government agencies that participated in the study.
The report is an annual compilation of statistics on child welfare from several government agencies, including the U.S. Census. It tracks trends in family life, health care, safety and education.
Drawing on previously released census data, the report painted a picture of a young population that is holding steady as a proportion of the population, at about 24 percent -- a percentage not expected to change through 2021.
But the report also showed racial and ethnic backgrounds and living circumstances are undergoing dramatic shifts. The percentage of children who are Hispanic, for example, has increased faster than it has for any other racial or ethnic group, from 9 percent of the population in 1980 to 22 percent in 2008....(Remainder.)