- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The White House may be touting a message of an improved economy — and claiming on its website that President Obama is all about helping those of lesser financial means — but meanwhile, nearly one-quarter of America’s youth are struggling in poverty, a new report reveals.

Nearly one in four children lived in poverty in 2012 — and that’s a scarce move of the dial from 2011 statistics, United Press International reported. In fact, even as some on Capitol Hill are claiming a reinvigorated business climate and improved national economy, a few states have actually seen an increased poverty rate among children.

Beth Mattingly of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire and several research colleagues said New Hampshire’s childhood poverty numbers rose significantly in just a year’s time — and what’s worse, the state bragged on the lowest child poverty rate in the entire nation for a full decade. In 2011, the rate of poverty for that age group was 12 percent. A year later, it rose to 15.6 percent. And in all the years from 2007 to 2012, that figure jumped more than 75 percent, the researchers found.

Meanwhile, around the nation, 16.4 million children were reported to be living in poverty in 2012. Of that, six million are aged 6 and younger. That comes in comparison to 2007 numbers, when the national poverty rate for youth stood at 18 percent, or 13.1 million children, UPI reported.

The researchers used the federal definition of poverty — a family of four with less than $23,283 a year.

“These new estimates suggest that child poverty plateaued in the aftermath of the Great Recession [around 2008] but has not yet begun to fall as we enter the fourth year of ‘recovery.’ While modest improvements are evident in some places, increases in others raise concerns about the well-being of America’s children,” the researchers said.

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On the White House website, Mr. Obama is described as a “lifelong advocate for the poor” who helped America’s lower-earning class with a $20 billion increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly referred to as food stamps — in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. And it also refers to his promise to “revitalize” those areas suffering from poverty.

“As a young college graduate, he rejected the high salaries of corporate America and moved to the South Side of Chicago to work as a community organizer,” the White House describes Mr. Obama on its website. “As an organizer, President Obama worked with Chicago residents, churches, and local government to set up job training programs for the unemployed and after-school programs for kids. As president, his life experiences inform his efforts to create a path of opportunity for all hard-working Americans to enter the middle class. President Obama will lead a new federal approach to revitalize communities stricken by the economic crisis as well as communities that were hurting before it began.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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