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New York’s child poverty rate among the highest in the U.S., state comptroller report finds

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New York state’s child poverty rate is among the highest in the country, according to a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Nearly one in five, or 18.8% of children across the state were living in poverty in 2022, the report says, putting New York 41st in a nationwide ranking and above the nationwide rate of 16.3%. The figure represents a nearly five percentage point increase from 2021. New York exceeds neighboring states by at least 6 percentage points, and the state performed second-worst in a group of comparable peer states including Texas, Florida, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania, the report says. Texas was the worst, with a child poverty rate of 19.2%. 

The rate had generally trended downward since 2012, when child poverty stood at 22.8%. However, the gap in rates between New York and the U.S. has widened since 2019, despite an “extraordinary but temporary” influx of relief from federal, state and local aid during the pandemic, according to the comptroller’s report, which temporarily shrunk the gap in 2021.

In the report, “poverty” is when an individual or household can’t meet basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. The report used data from the Official Poverty Measure from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The comptroller’s report, which contextualizes New York’s current performance with other states, is a follow-up to a report released in December 2022 which first examined the issue.

Four counties across the state had particularly acute levels of child poverty — the Bronx at 35.5% and Brooklyn at 27.5% among them. Chautauqua and Broome counties had rates of 26.6% and 27%, respectively. Nassau and Suffolk counties had the lowest rates in the metro area at 6.6% and 7.1%, respectively. Putnam County had the lowest rate in the state at 5.8%.

Maria Doulis, head of the comptroller’s budget and policy analysis division, said that the diversity of affected cities was striking.

“Sometimes we think of these issues as urban vs. rural, but this shows that poverty is a problem across all types of cities,” she said.

The increases in poverty are driven by stagnant wages, the rising cost of living and high unemployment rates, according to anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood.

Doulis also pointed out that poverty is highly correlated with housing security, food security and health coverage.

The recently enacted state budget includes a $50 million anti-poverty pilot program. The pilot, which is federally funded, will start with families living in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, and if successful, will be expanded statewide.

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Amanda Glodowski , 2024-05-20 20:07:34

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