The Effects of the Recession on Child Poverty: Poverty Statistics for 2008 and Growth in Need during 2009

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Brookings Institution and First Focus
U.S. Census Bureau

Two new research reports provide evidence of the impact of the recession on child poverty. In the first report, a First Focus and Brookings Institution researcher documents an increase in child poverty by analyzing the growth in the number of people receiving food stamps, while in the second study the Census Bureau shows that among married couples with children under 18 in 2009, the unemployment rates of both the fathers and mothers have increased since 2007.

The First Focus and Brookings report shows that around 3.4 million more children under 18 were receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – formerly known as food stamps – in August 2009 than just a year earlier in August 2008, a 24 percent increase. SNAP benefits are provided to low-income individuals and families and can be used as a predictor of child poverty rates. The states with the highest child poverty rates last year were Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, along with the District of Columbia, according to the analysis. First Focus is an organization that advocates for child and family issues and the Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy think tank.

The Census Bureau data on parent unemployment rates demonstrated that roughly 6 percent of married fathers of children under 18 were unemployed in 2009, up from around 3 percent in 2007. Mothers in the same category showed unemployment rates increasing from 2 percent in 2007 to 4 percent in 2009. Single-father families faced a more devastating unemployment statistic last year: 12 percent, compared with 7 percent in 2007. Single-mother families showed the mothers’ unemployment rate at 10 percent in 2009 and 6 percent in 2007. The data come from the Census Bureau’s March 2009 Current Population Survey.

The Effects of the Recession on Child Poverty: Free, 12 pages. Contact: (202) 657-0677,

America’s Families and Living Arrangements: Free. Contact:,