At the start of the Great Recession, Connecticut experienced the largest increase in child poverty of any state in the nation, rising from 7.9% in 2007 to 9.3% in 2008, according to new data released Thursday by the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
New data showed that the official end of the Great Recession has had no real impact for the most vulnerable children in Connecticut, who experienced a net increase in poverty from 2008 to 2012, according to a release from non-profit CT Voices for Children.
More than one out of every seven Connecticut children lived in poverty in 2012, an increase of more than 17% since 2008.
“Given what we know about the link between child poverty, decreased educational opportunity, and lower lifetime earnings, these numbers bode poorly not only for the children living in need but also for the long-term economic health of our state,” said Ellen Shemitz, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children in the release.
According to Shemitz, “Child poverty reflects policy choices made at the local, state and federal levels. Our success in dramatically decreasing poverty among the elderly demonstrates how well we can bend the curve when we want to." Shemitz went on to recommend investing in quality early childhood education, targeted parenting support, universal access to health care, and tools that provide economic security.
Connecticut Voices highlighted Connecticut’s state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as an effective measure that helps lift low-income working families out of poverty. In 2012, Connecticut taxpayers began to receive the benefits of the state EITC – over 180,000 households received the new credit, which can only be claimed by people who earn income through work.
“The state EITC continues to improve financial security for low-income families working hard to reach the middle class,” said Matthew Santacroce, Policy Analyst at Connecticut Voices for Children in the release.
Estimates of poverty rates varied significantly across Connecticut’s cities: Bridgeport (25.3%), Danbury (9.3%), Hartford (38.0%), New Britain (24.1%), New Haven (26.1%), Norwalk (10.3%), Stamford (7.7%), and Waterbury (24.9%).
The percentage of children under 18 in poverty in Connecticut cities was also reported for Bridgeport (37.6%), Danbury (11.0 %), Hartford (53.1%), New Britain (31.0%), New Haven (37.9%), Norwalk (13.0%), Stamford (9.7%), and Waterbury (40.0%).
Poverty estimates for 2012 are only available at this time for cities with populations over 65,000.
Statewide, the poverty rates for Hispanics (27.6%) and African Americans (24.0%) were dramatically higher than the rate for White, non-Hispanic residents (5.8%).
“Despite the belief that the economy is recovering, it’s troubling to learn that poverty levels did not improve in Connecticut between 2011 and 2012,” commented Mary Pat Healy, Executive Director of the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition in the release. “In a region with tremendous wealth, too many families in our community struggle to meet their children’s most basic needs."
Median household income in Connecticut was $67,276 in 2012. This was a decline from the income level at the beginning of the recession in 2008, when the median household income was $73,075.
Connecticut Voices for Children is a research-based think tank that works to advance policies that benefit the state’s children, youth and families. More information on the survey results is available on the CT Voices website.