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2010 saw increase in number of poor, young families

The New York Times reports that new data shows the number of young and poor families in the country increased in 2010.

According to the Times:

More than one in three young families with children were living in poverty last year, according to an analysis of census data by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

At 37 percent, it was the highest level on record for the group, surpassing the previous peak of 36 percent in 1993, according to the analysis by Ishwar Khatiwada, an economist at the center. By comparison, the rate was about 25 percent in 2000.

Census Data recently released shows that, in general, poverty increased in 2009. However, women and children remain the hardest hit by the country’s difficult economic times.

A report on children’s health in Florida released in August raised concerns about the health of children in the state. The report claimed that in Florida, children have been impacted greatly by the state’s economic pitfalls. A press release explained that there has been “an eighteen percent increase in the U.S. child poverty rate between 2000 and 2009.”

“This increase means that 2.5 million more children are living below the federal poverty line ($21,756 for a family of two adults and two children) and effectively wiping out the gains made on this important measure in the late 1990’s,” the press release explained.

According to the Times:

The change is evidence of shifting policy priorities that are putting the next generation at risk at a time when competition in the labor market has never been tougher, said Andrew Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern and the director of the center.

“Young families with children are now six times as likely to be poor as elderly families,” Professor Sum said. “This is a major generational change. From a public policy standpoint, we should be very deeply troubled by this.”

Economists cited several reasons for the rise. First was the economy. College degrees hold greater value now, while opportunities for low-skilled workers have dwindled, as manufacturing and other industries have declined. That has pushed more young families into poverty.

This past year, the Florida Legislature cut funding for a host of programs aimed at helping young families who are at-risk or impoverished. One of the programs that received budget cuts included a nurse-family partnership program for first-time at-risk mothers.

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