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Child Poverty Down in NH, But Pockets Persist

 The Granite State recorded a 2.8 percent drop in the share of children living in poverty according to the U.S. Census. (Chris Jackson/Flckr)
The Granite State recorded a 2.8 percent drop in the share of children living in poverty according to the U.S. Census. (Chris Jackson/Flckr)
September 18, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. -- The Granite State is making progress in reducing poverty, according to the latest numbers. But some groups are seeing only limited gains as the state recovers from the Great Recession.

Phil Sletten, policy analyst with the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, said some of the biggest strides have been made in getting children out of poverty. Only 7.9 percent of New Hampshire residents younger than 18 were living in poverty in 2016. That's compared with 10.7 percent in 2015.

Still, the latest U.S. Census data indicates more than 94,000 Granite Staters still are living in poverty. Sletten said the high cost of housing is a major factor, with more than 1 in 5 New Hampshire households making less than $35,000 a year in income.

"For these households that are renting for their housing, more than 44 percent of these households with less than $35,000 a year have rents equivalent to more than half their income,” Sletten said.

According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the state's overall poverty rate dropped between 2015 and 2016 from 8.2 percent to 7.3 percent.

In addition to high housing costs, Sletten said families with children struggle to cover child care, health care, transportation and food costs. He said despite the improvement in the top-line numbers, there are still significant pockets of poverty. About 4 percent of state residents earned less than $10,000 in income and benefits in 2016.

"While the overall picture is one of improvement, individuals who identify as black or African American, individuals with a disability, those adults with less than a high school education, and families with single-parent household heads face considerably higher poverty rates than the state average,” he said.

The numbers also show Granite State women are more likely to live in poverty, with 8.1 percent of females in poverty compared with 6.5 percent of males.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH