You want a campaign issue for the 2012 election? Here is one…
A recent report by Connecticut Voices for Child, the state’s premier research and child advocacy organization, revealed that the number of Connecticut residents living below the Federal Poverty Level has increased from 10.1 percent in 2010 to 10.9 percent in 2011.
Connecticut is the wealthiest state in the country. If we were our own country, we would be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet about 375,000 Connecticut residents, more than 1 in 10 live in abject poverty.
The extent of poverty is even greater among Connecticut’s children, and the situation is getting worse at a faster pace.
As of 2011, 118,809 Connecticut children, under the age of 18, lived in households with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level. That is a breathtaking 14.9 percent of all children.
And we aren’t talking about people who simply don’t have that much money. We are talking about children and families that are among the poorest in the entire nation. The Federal Poverty Level for a two-parent household, with two children, is $22,811 a year.
The most shocking fact of all is that the rate of poverty in Connecticut is getting significantly worse.
A decade ago, in 2001, 7.3 percent of Connecticut’s residents lived below the poverty line. That was about 242,000 people. Ten years later, in 2011, the number of residents living in poverty has increased to almost 378,000. That means the poverty rate in Connecticut has jumped from 7.9 percent to 10.9 percent.
The numbers are even more disturbing and disgusting when it comes to what has happened to our state’s children. In 2001, about 82,000 or 10.2 percent of Connecticut’s children lived in households below the poverty line.
In 2011, that number had increased to almost 119,000, a stunning 14.9 percent of all children.
The number of children living in poverty in some of Connecticut’s cities rival that of some developing nations;
In Hartford, 47.9 percent of the children now grow up in households trying to make it on an income that places them below the federal poverty level.
In New Haven the child poverty rate is 41.4%, Bridgeport (39.9%), New Britain (35.7%), and Waterbury (34.5%). Danbury (17.9%) and Stamford (17.5%)
In 2004, the Connecticut General Assembly, and Connecticut’s Governor, created the Connecticut Child Poverty Council. Our state became the first state in the nation to set a goal of reducing poverty in half by 2014.
At the time, with just over 10 of Connecticut’s children living in poverty, the state pledged to reduce the child poverty rate to 5% by 2014.
However instead of cutting that rate in half, as of now, we have seen an increase of over 50 percent.
Next time you hear an elected official or a candidate talk about their record of accomplishments or their plan for the future, ask them explain how they rationalize the fact that child poverty is skyrocketing in our state and demand that they explain, in detail, what they will actually do to save Connecticut’s poorest and most vulnerable children.
For the CT Voices report, go to: http://www.ctvoices.org/sites/default/files/econ12censuspovertyacs.pdf