39% Of All New Orleans Kids Live In Poverty
NEW ORLEANS – Thirty-nine percent of all New Orleans children live in poverty, a full 17 percentage points higher than in the U.S. overall.
That staggering statistic according to The Data Center, which released a report today called “New Orleans Kids, Working Parents, and Poverty.”
The report states New Orleans is in the top ten of highest child poverty rates among comparable cities because the wages of adult workers in a child’s family determine their poverty status, and too many New Orleans jobs offer poverty level wages.
According to the report, there have been many studies linking poverty to unhealthy brain development and scientific research, and scholars assert poverty may be the single greatest threat to children’s healthy brain development. Without healthy brain development, researchers say, New Orleans’ kids risk lifelong difficulties in learning, memory and self-regulation.
Roughly 78,000 children under 18 years of age live in New Orleans as of 2013. The Data Center reports this is a sizable drop from 2000 when more than 129,000 children lived in New Orleans. While the number of children in New Orleans is significantly smaller than pre-Katrina, the poverty rate unfortunately is not, their data shows. They found the child poverty rate in New Orleans dropped in 2007 but has since increased to the same level it was pre-Katrina.
Among the 39 cities with populations between 275,000 and 600,000, New Orleans has the 9th highest child poverty rate. The Data Center’s report determined this is particularly concerning given many of the cities with higher child poverty rates, such as Cleveland, are not experiencing an economic renaissance as in New Orleans. They find child poverty in New Orleans is significantly higher than in many cities that New Orleans might aspire to be compared with, such as Tampa and Raleigh.
The report also finds:
• The poverty rate for single-mother families in New Orleans—at 58%—is much higher than the national average of 41%.
• A larger share—12%—of full-time, year-round workers in the New Orleans metro earn less than $17,500 per year, as compared to only 8% nationally.
• According to 2013 Census data, more than 64,000 working women in New Orleans earned less than $17,500 in the prior 12 months through either full-time or part-time work.
• In New Orleans, poverty is not evenly spread across the city, but is concentrated in certain neighborhoods. Because family composition is highly correlated with poverty, the geography of poverty and single parent families follow a consistent spatial pattern.
The report concludes working parents and families in a lower-wage economy like New Orleans are going to need additional supports such as innovative, multi-generational programs that are being piloted in other cities. Couple those with an increase in wages that inches the population toward family-sustaining incomes for workers, the City could move closer to lifting children and families out of poverty.
Given the current cost of living in New Orleans, The Data Center reports two sources estimate that a single worker needs a wage of roughly $22 per hour to provide for one child and that even a single worker with no children needs $14.85 per hour to live in New Orleans.
Raising a mother out of poverty can have a powerful rippling effect on society, particularly in New Orleans where almost 50% of the children living with parents live with a single mom, the report suggests.
The Data Center says they are the local authority for tracking post-Katrina recovery with The New Orleans Index, developed in partnership with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.