Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Impact of the Recession on Children

The Brookings Institution’s Julia Isaacs recently published a report on the impact of the recession on children, The Recession’s Ongoing Impact on America’s Children: Indicators of Children's Economic Well-Being Through 2011. The report asserts that the impact of the recession on children can be hard to see; in part because some economic statistics do not include children (such as the unemployment rate) while others come out after a long time delay (the poverty rate). In order to get a sense of the economic well-being of children during and following the recession, Isaacs’ report tracks three state-by-state indicators: children with an unemployed parent, individuals receiving nutrition assistance benefits, and child poverty.

Isaacs’ report found that “many families have at least one parent out of work, are turning to SNAP benefits to put food on the table, and/or have cash income less than the poverty threshold ($17,000 per year for a family of three). Two of these three indicators are worse in 2011 than in 2010, indicating a continued deterioration in children’s economic well-being.” However Isaacs’ found that “one positive trend is that the number of children with an unemployed parent in 2011 is lower than a year ago” but goes on to state that “SNAP caseloads continue to rise, and child poverty is also is rising.”

For policymakers this work provides great context for the ongoing debates over federal and state budgets. As state policymakers engage in these debates and address issues of government size and spending, and the appropriate balance of spending cuts and tax increases to address budget deficits, it is important to consider that many families with children have not yet recovered from the recession and are in greater need of government supports and services than they would be in normal economic times.

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