off the charts
POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

You are here

Children Facing Very High Hardship Rates

August 6, 2020 at 4:30 PM

Some 19 million children (more than 1 in 4) live in a household that is behind on rent or mortgage payments, isn’t getting enough to eat, or both, we estimate based on Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data from late June and July. Coming on top of extensive data showing severe, widespread hardship due to COVID-19 and the deep recession, these estimates provide further evidence that policymakers must act now on a new economic relief package.

Our estimates are substantially higher for Black and Hispanic homes, reflecting longstanding inequities that the current crisis has exacerbated. For about 42 percent of children in Black households and 36 percent in Hispanic households (the survey asks the race of the adult respondent, not the children), the household was behind on the rent or mortgage or not getting enough to eat, compared to 20 percent in both white and Asian households. Although the survey does not provide data for other individual racial groups, the rate was 34 percent for children in households with an American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or multiracial respondent.

Estimates for states vary widely, from 16 percent in Iowa, Utah, and Vermont to 38 percent in Mississippi. (See Table 1.) Because the estimates are approximations, modest differences between states should be viewed cautiously.

Children in renter households, which tend to have lower incomes and savings than households with a mortgage, have particularly high hardship rates. Four in 10 children of renters — about 9 million children — live in a household that’s behind on the rent or not getting enough to eat. Here, too, there are significant disparities by race. Some 48 percent of children in Black renter households and 44 percent of children in Latino renter households live in households that are behind on the rent or not getting enough to eat, compared to 35 percent of children in white renter households. (See Table 2 for data on the number children of renters by state who live in a household that isn’t getting enough to eat or is behind on rent.)

Paying rent, in particular, is a struggle for many during the pandemic: 30 percent of children of renters live in a household that’s behind on its payment.

The figures above reflect children in households where an adult reported that the household (not necessarily the children) had “not enough to eat” sometimes or often in the last seven days, or did not pay last month’s rent or mortgage on time or had their rent or mortgage deferred.

To improve reliability, we averaged five weeks of Household Pulse Survey data, gathered from June 18 to July 21. About 85,000 to 100,000 adults responded each week. Because the survey was not designed to provide precise counts of children (but rather to provide more timely data on adult well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic than most household surveys), our figures are approximations, especially in smaller states.

TABLE 1
Children in Households That Are Behind on Rent or Mortgage and/or Didn't Get Enough to Eat
Data collected June 18 to July 21
  Number Percent
United States 18,883,000 plus or minus (±) 490,000 28% ± 1
Alabama 416,000 ± 55,000 35% ± 3
Alaska 37,000 ± 7,000 23% ± 3
Arizona 407,000 ± 53,000 27% ± 3
Arkansas 199,000 ± 27,000 29% ± 3
California 2,186,000 ± 157,000 28% ± 2
Colorado 230,000 ± 52,000 19% ± 4
Connecticut 156,000 ± 19,000 25% ± 3
Delaware 55,000 ± 8,000 26% ± 3
District of Columbia 39,000 ± 9,000 34% ± 6
Florida 1,257,000 ± 123,000 31% ± 2
Georgia 727,000 ± 90,000 30% ± 3
Hawai’i 80,000 ± 13,000 30% ± 4
Idaho 96,000 ± 15,000 20% ± 3
Illinois 817,000 ± 107,000 32% ± 3
Indiana 454,000 ± 78,000 29% ± 4
Iowa 106,000 ± 17,000 16% ± 3
Kansas 137,000 ± 22,000 21% ± 3
Kentucky 230,000 ± 24,000 25% ± 3
Louisiana 403,000 ± 65,000 37% ± 4
Maine 47,000 ± 10,000 21% ± 4
Maryland 419,000 ± 51,000 32% ± 3
Massachusetts 294,000 ± 53,000 23% ± 3
Michigan 471,000 ± 57,000 23% ± 3
Minnesota 239,000 ± 47,000 20% ± 3
Mississippi 292,000 ± 39,000 38% ± 4
Missouri 302,000 ± 39,000 23% ± 3
Montana 48,000 ± 9,000 23% ± 4
Nebraska 90,000 ± 18,000 21% ± 3
Nevada 211,000 ± 29,000 31% ± 4
New Hampshire 47,000 ± 8,000 19% ± 3
New Jersey 520,000 ± 77,000 28% ± 3
New Mexico 175,000 ± 31,000 35% ± 5
New York 1,120,000 ± 157,000 31% ± 4
North Carolina 606,000 ± 76,000 30% ± 3
North Dakota 35,000 ± 6,000 22% ± 3
Ohio 629,000 ± 95,000 26% ± 3
Oklahoma 252,000 ± 42,000 27% ± 4
Oregon 138,000 ± 23,000 18% ± 3
Pennsylvania 731,000 ± 89,000 29% ± 3
Rhode Island 60,000 ± 10,000 31% ± 4
South Carolina 315,000 ± 34,000 26% ± 3
South Dakota 55,000 ± 13,000 27% ± 5
Tennessee 456,000 ± 56,000 30% ± 3
Texas 2,058,000 ± 161,000 30% ± 2
Utah 138,000 ± 26,000 16% ± 3
Vermont 18,000 ± 3,000 16% ± 3
Virginia 399,000 ± 60,000 24% ± 3
Washington 250,000 ± 42,000 18% ± 3
West Virginia 106,000 ± 18,000 29% ± 4
Wisconsin 291,000 ± 45,000 23% ± 3
Wyoming 35,000 ± 7,000 25% ± 4

Note: Figures are a five-week average. Survey does not collect data on children directly; figures for children are estimated based on number of children in each household. As the Census Bureau recommends, percentages exclude persons not replying to the question. For children in households that neither have a mortgage nor pay cash rent, such as those living in employer-provided housing, hardship is determined based only on whether these households had enough food. Margins of error reflect a 90 percent confidence level.

Source: CBPP analysis of Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey public use files for survey weeks 8 - 12, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/datasets.html

TABLE 2
Children in Renter Households That Are Behind on Rent and/or Didn't Get Enough to Eat
Data collected June 18 to July 21
  Number Percent
United States 10,440,000 plus or minus (±) 402,000 41% ± 1
Alabama 186,000 ± 32,000 49% ± 7
Alaska 18,000 ± 5,000 35% ± 7
Arizona 224,000 ± 35,000 42% ± 5
Arkansas 99,000 ± 18,000 46% ± 6
California 1,362,000 ± 144,000 35% ± 3
Colorado 85,000 ± 25,000 28% ± 7
Connecticut 83,000 ± 16,000 41% ± 5
Delaware 20,000 ± 4,000 30% ± 8
District of Columbia 31,000 ± 8,000 50% ± 10
Florida 641,000 ± 77,000 40% ± 4
Georgia 441,000 ± 89,000 44% ± 6
Hawai’i 45,000 ± 10,000 34% ± 6
Idaho 43,000 ± 12,000 32% ± 8
Illinois 450,000 ± 84,000 49% ± 6
Indiana 229,000 ± 60,000 43% ± 9
Iowa 60,000 ± 13,000 39% ± 7
Kansas 55,000 ± 14,000 29% ± 5
Kentucky 140,000 ± 25,000 42% ± 7
Louisiana 218,000 ± 58,000 50% ± 7
Maine 21,000 ± 8,000 35% ± 11
Maryland 286,000 ± 51,000 51% ± 6
Massachusetts 152,000 ± 50,000 34% ± 8
Michigan 242,000 ± 42,000 39% ± 6
Minnesota 106,000 ± 37,000 38% ± 10
Mississippi 166,000 ± 35,000 56% ± 6
Missouri 136,000 ± 25,000 34% ± 6
Montana 27,000 ± 8,000 39% ± 9
Nebraska 37,000 ± 8,000 36% ± 6
Nevada 131,000 ± 27,000 41% ± 7
New Hampshire 18,000 ± 6,000 31% ± 8
New Jersey 270,000 ± 56,000 42% ± 6
New Mexico 66,000 ± 16,000 42% ± 6
New York 779,000 ± 135,000 45% ± 7
North Carolina 343,000 ± 58,000 45% ± 7
North Dakota 16,000 ± 4,000 34% ± 7
Ohio 368,000 ± 81,000 45% ± 7
Oklahoma 123,000 ± 23,000 41% ± 7
Oregon 73,000 ± 17,000 23% ± 5
Pennsylvania 352,000 ± 56,000 47% ± 6
Rhode Island 35,000 ± 8,000 52% ± 8
South Carolina 157,000 ± 26,000 46% ± 7
South Dakota 33,000 ± 11,000 56% ± 11
Tennessee 259,000 ± 41,000 48% ± 6
Texas 1,210,000 ± 125,000 46% ± 3
Utah 48,000 ± 15,000 26% ± 7
Vermont 9,000 ± 3,000 37% ± 10
Virginia 172,000 ± 41,000 33% ± 6
Washington 144,000 ± 38,000 28% ± 6
West Virginia 49,000 ± 14,000 45% ± 10
Wisconsin 165,000 ± 36,000 47% ± 7
Wyoming 17,000 ± 6,000 42% ± 10

Note: Figures are a five-week average. Survey does not collect data on children directly; figures for children are estimated based on number of children in each household. As the Census Bureau recommends, percentages exclude persons not replying to the question. Figures omit children in households that do not pay cash rent, such as those living in employer-provided housing. Margins of error reflect a 90 percent confidence level.

Source: CBPP analysis of Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey public use files for survey weeks 8 - 12, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/datasets.html


SHARE