Study says child poverty rate in U.S. now 20 percent

Twenty percent of kids in the United States lived in poverty in 2009, according to a new study released Wednesday.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book found that the child poverty rate in the U.S. grew about 18 percent over the last 10 years, with the numbers rising in 38 of the 50 states.

"This is really troubling because we had made so much progress in the 1990s in reducing the percentage of children in poverty," Patrick McCarthy, the foundation's president and CEO, told NPR. "Essentially the recession has put us back to where we were in the early 1990s."

NPR reported some of the sobering statistics contained in the report. Nearly 15 million children lived in poverty in 2009, and more than 30 million lived in households where no parent held a full-time, year-round job. Black children were twice as likely as white children to have an unemployed parent. In Nevada, which had the highest rate of children whose parents were unemployed and underemployed, 13 percent of babies, toddlers and teenagers have lived in a house that was foreclosed on.

Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama ranked at the bottom in terms of child welfare. New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont were at the top.

According to the Associated Press "researchers concluded that low-income children will likely suffer academically, economically and socially long after their parents have recovered."

"People who grew up in a financially secure situation find it easier to succeed in life, they are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to graduate from college and these are things that will lead to greater success in life," Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told the AP. "What we are looking at is a cohort of kids who as they become adults may be less able to contribute to the growth of the economy. It could go on for multiple generations."

NPR notes that the report did contain some positives. Infant mortalities, child and teen deaths and high school dropout rates have all declined over the last two decades.