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Report: Fewer Utah Children Living in Concentrated Poverty

A new report shows that the number of Utah children living in concentrated poverty has decreased significantly over the past decade. (AdobeStock)
A new report shows that the number of Utah children living in concentrated poverty has decreased significantly over the past decade. (AdobeStock)
September 25, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY – The number of Utah children living in concentrated poverty has decreased significantly over the past decade, according to a new report.

A data snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation defines concentrated poverty as an area with 30% or more of the population living below the poverty line. The study shows that the number of Utah children living in high-poverty neighborhoods declined from a high of 6% in 2010 to just2 % in 2017.

Moe Hickey, CEO of Voices for Utah Children, says the improvements in Utah are spread across a variety of economic and social situations.

"In economics, in all areas – so they measure children in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a high housing-cost burden, teens not in school and not working,” says Hickey. “We improved in all of those areas."

According to the report, growing up in an area of concentrated poverty is one of the greatest risks to healthy child development.

The Casey Foundation's Associate State Director of Advocacy Scot Spencer says despite the economic expansion seen over the past several years, concentrated poverty has worsened in many states. He says federal, state and local governments, along with business and philanthropy, should work to revitalize high-poverty communities by transforming them into places of opportunity.

"When we are trying to alleviate concentrated poverty,” says Spencer, “particularly in places that are experiencing a dramatic growth in population, that we do so in a way that allows the people who lived in those neighborhoods for a long time to be able to stay while also welcoming a new population into the city."

Hickey says despite his state's improvements, the large numbers of young people among Utah's population means poverty levels could change quickly.

"Even if we hold steady in certain areas, our challenge here is that our under-19 population is continuing to grow on an annual basis,” says Hickey. “So, Utah right now, we are 34.6% of our population under the age of 19."

The report shows that 8.5 million kids in the United States currently live in poverty. It shows that 10 states and Puerto Rico saw an increase in the number of families living in poverty, but it also found improvements in more than half of the states.

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT