Child poverty (those under 18) in Missouri has increased from 14.8 percent to 18.4 percent of all children. In 2007, there were over a quarter of a million Missouri children living in poverty. Sadly, there are at least 50,000 more poor children in Missouri than there were in 2000!
The highest proportion of Missouri persons living in families below the poverty level continues to be children (see this report for an analysis of 2000 census data). According to 2007 Census estimates released by the Small Area Estimates Branch, the proportion of children below poverty in Missouri was 18.4 percent. This compares to 13.3 percent for persons of all ages.
The U.S. Census Bureau, with support from other Federal agencies, created the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program to provide more current estimates of selected income and poverty statistics than those available from the 2000 decennial census. Estimates are created for states, counties, and school districts. The main objective of this program is to provide updated estimates of income and poverty statistics for the administration of federal programs and the allocation of federal funds to local jurisdictions.
Beginning in 2005, SAIPE estimates are based on data gathered by the American Community Survey (ACS) unlike previous post-census estimates which were based on the 2000 decennial census. In a paper presented to the American Statistical Association, Posey et al. note that:
Therefore, there are differences between poverty data from the Census 2000 and the SAIPE 2000 estimates. Data presented in this article are from the 2000 and 2007 SAIPE estimates as the Census Bureau recommends, for consistency, using one source or the other.
What is the Federal Poverty Level?
Families and unrelated individuals are classified as being above or below the poverty level using the poverty index originated at the Social Security Administration in 1964 and revised by Federal Interagency Committees in 1969 and 1980. The poverty index is based solely on money income and does not reflect non-cash benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, public housing, etc. received by many low-income households. Whether the income of a family or household is above or below the poverty level depends on income and the number of persons in the household. The poverty thresholds, derived from the food buying habits of families in the 1950s, are updated every year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.
In 2007, the poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two children was $21,027.
Variations in Child Poverty Rates
While 18.4 percent of children were considered below poverty in 2007, this continues to vary widely across counties in the state. Rates ranged from a low of 5.7 percent in St. Charles County to a high of 46 percent in Pemiscot County (see Table 1). As the map below illustrates, the Southeast, South Central and Bootheel regions continue to have the highest child poverty rates.
Posey, K. G., Welniak, E. & Nelson, C. (2003). Income in the American Community Survey: Comparisons to Census 2000. Retrieved March 26, 2009 from http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS/ASA_nelson.pdf
National Center for Children in Poverty, Missouri State Profiles
Child Trends Brief: Children in Poverty: Trends, Consequences, and Policy Options
This file last modified Wednesday August 19, 2009, 14:43:33
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