Census Report: 1 in 4 W.Va. Kids Lives in Poverty

Charleston Gazette - More than one in four kids in West Virginia lives in poverty. That's nearly 100,000 kids. Read

One in three West Virginia kids under the age of 5 lives in poverty.

Those numbers come from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey, which showed a statistically significant increase in child poverty in West Virginia for the first time since at least 2009.

In West Virginia, 27 percent of kids and 33 percent of kids under 5 live in poverty. Both of those numbers are the highest they've been in the past five years, despite significant improvement in other economic factors over that time.

West Virginia's unemployment rate spiked in 2009 because of the financial crisis, peaking at 8.5 percent in 2010. Since then, it has fluctuated some, but has declined fairly steadily. It was 6.6 percent in August. Similarly, after plummeting in 2009, the state's gross domestic product has grown by at least 2.5 percent every year since, except for 2012.

"These poverty numbers are showing that this growth isn't lifting all of us, that the people at the bottom are being left behind," said Sean O'Leary, an economic analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, a progressive think tank. "It's a wakeup call that we can't just rely on general economic growth to address poverty."

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