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Oregon Sees One of Biggest Drops in Childhood Poverty

According to new data, the childhood poverty rate in Oregon has decreased since 2011. (Kelly Short/flickr)
According to new data, the childhood poverty rate in Oregon has decreased since 2011. (Kelly Short/flickr)
September 20, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Childhood poverty has decreased significantly in Oregon since its peak in 2011, according to new data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In the wake of the Great Recession, the child poverty rate in the Beaver State grew to 24 percent. Since then, data shows the rate has come down to 20 percent, one of the biggest drops in the country.

The Executive director of Children First for Oregon, Tonia Hunt, said many working-class families still are recovering from the Great Recession in 2008.

"What happened in that recession with the hollowing out of that middle-class job market, we don't really know when it will come back or how it will come back, but at least we're making some progress," she said.

Nationally, the child poverty rate decreased from its peak of 23 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015.

Although rates dropped among all children, African-American and Latino children are still three times more likely to live in poverty. Hunt said children pay when they aren't given equal opportunities in things like education, leading to perpetual cycles of injustice.

"It's important we do everything we can to really take a hard look at those systemic barriers, the longstanding injustices of opportunity for our kids, and address those in an active and intentional way," she added.

Hunt said Oregon's working families could use a relief from the rising cost of living in the state.

"So the more we can do to support families and their housing costs, support low-income working families in their child-care costs to make sure that their work allows a minimum quality of life for them and their children," she explained.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR