Spirit of Jefferson – According to the Census Bureau’s official poverty estimates, West Virginia saw its child poverty rate increase from 20.7 percent to 25.0 percent between 2021 and 2022, the only state to see an increase by the official measure (along with Puerto Rico). In 2022, West Virginia’s child poverty rate was the second highest among the 50 states, with 86,400 children living in poverty.
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Nationally, child poverty more than doubled when using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a metric that is considered more nuanced as it takes into consideration tax credits and housing and food assistance along with the cost of living. While the spike in Supplemental Child Poverty can be attributed to Congress’ failure to extend pandemic-era anti-poverty programs, the increase in official child poverty means something more is amiss for West Virginia children.
Among the full population of adults and children, West Virginia’s official poverty rate was 17.9 percent, the third highest rate of the 50 states, with 308,825 West Virginians living in poverty. Black (30.7 percent) and Latino (22.4 percent) West Virginians were more likely to experience poverty.
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