Colorado’s child poverty rate was higher in 2012 than during the worst years of the Great Recession, according to data from the American Community Survey released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The new data show that in 2012, 18 percent of all Colorado kids were living in poverty, up from 15 percent in 2008. Nearly 224,000 children across the state were living in poverty last year, defined as an annual income at or below $23,050 for a family of four. Since 2000, Colorado has seen the number of children living in poverty more than double, increasing at the third-fastest rate in the nation. Median household income in Colorado also continued to stagnate, with little change from 2011 to 2012. Since 2008, Colorado’s median household income has declined from just over $61,000 to $56,765.
These new data show that despite some indications that our economy is in recovery, economic security remains out of reach for many of Colorado’s low- and middle-income families. Meanwhile, Congress continues to debate cuts to programs that are critical to thousands of Colorado children, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps). Other important programs like Head Start and Early Head Start are feeling the effects of funding cuts from the sequester that went into effect earlier this year.
Despite the increase in child poverty, Colorado continues to make steady progress on getting more children insured. The newly released data show that 8.8 percent of Colorado kids were uninsured in 2012, down from 14 percent in 2008. Nationally, 7 percent of all children lacked health insurance in 2012.