Fact of the Week: Child Poverty Rates Top 50 Percent in More Than 40 U.S. Counties


December 19, 2014

At least one out of every two kids is poor in more than 40 counties in America, data released Wednesday by the Census Bureau revealed. The 2013 data is from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program, which provides one-year income and poverty statistics for all 3,140 counties and nearly 14,000 school districts in the U.S.
Of the 40 counties with the highest child poverty rates (listed in the SAIPE table below), more than a dozen states made the unenviable list at least once – many, though not all, from the South. In contrast, child poverty rates in the 40 counties that had the lowest rates ranged from 3.4 percent to 7.6 percent.

In addition, the poverty rate for school-age children was higher in 2013 than it was in 2007 in nearly a third of all counties. Only 0.5 percent of counties saw a decrease in this rate over this time.child poverty by county

The SAIPE data includes various breakdowns of the number of school-aged children in poverty, the number of children younger than 18 in poverty, the total population in poverty, and median household incomes. Interactive data and mapping tools allows advocates to get various statistics for counties or school districts and also allows for comparison to 2007 pre-recession levels. The U.S. Department of Education uses these estimates to allocate funds to states and school districts based on the number and percentage of low-income children.

In related news, research released this week from Oxfam America and the Economic Policy Institute shows that more than 15 million children – more than a quarter of our nation’s kids – live in households that depend on the earnings of low-wage workers. These kids and their families – more than 60 million people in all – would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase.

As we noted in our national report on poverty, which was based on the Census Bureau poverty data released in September, too many of our neighbors are still being left. And now we have even more proof that too many of our children are being left behind, too. With the doors closed on the 113th Congress, which ended with a mostly flat-funded budget for human needs programs and no increase in the federal minimum wage enacted, child poverty rates aren’t likely to get better any time soon.This makes all of our work with the 114th Congress, the Obama Administration, and state and local legislatures convening in the new year that much more important.

2013 SAIPE Program Estimates *
Poverty Rate, Under Age 18
40 Highest SAIPE County Estimates
County Name Poverty Rate, Under Age 18
 Humphreys County, MS 64.7
 Holmes County, MS 62.1
 Menominee County, WI 58.5
 Quitman County, MS 58.3
 Sharkey County, MS 57.9
 East Carroll Parish, LA 57.7
 Issaquena County, MS 56.4
 Leflore County, MS 56.2
 Allendale County, SC 56.1
 Coahoma County, MS 55.9
 Bolivar County, MS 55.8
 Clay County, GA 55.7
 Ziebach County, SD 55.4
 Madison Parish, LA 55.2
 Owsley County, KY 55.0
 Sumter County, GA 54.0
 Marion County, SC 53.5
 Corson County, SD 53.4
 Shannon County, SD 53.4
 Alexander County, IL 53.2
 Lowndes County, AL 53.1
 Phillips County, AR 53.0
 Perry County, AL 52.6
 McCreary County, KY 52.6
 Clay County, KY 52.5
 Lake County, MI 52.2
 Claiborne County, MS 52.1
 Lee County, AR 51.7
 Sunflower County, MS 51.7
 Mississippi County, MO 51.6
Yazoo County, MS 51.4
Starr County, TX 51.2
Wolfe County, KY 51.2
Todd County, SD 51.1
Washington County, MS 51.1
Greene County, AL 50.5
Noxubee County, MS 50.4
St. Francis County, AR 50.2
Tensas Parish, LA 50.2
Shannon County, MO 50.1
Wilcox County, AL 50.1
Lee County, KY 50.0
Marengo County, AL 50.0
*Apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant.
Source: Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program,
U.S. Census Bureau


Census Bureau
child poverty
Fact of the Week
Poverty and Income