Predicament of Poverty: 26% of Louisville’s kids are poor

August 12, 2014

Results of the recently released KIDS COUNT report show that Kentucky children are disproportionately living in poverty. For a family of four to be considered impoverished, total yearly household income is $23,850 or less. Nationally, about 23% of kids live below the poverty line, but in Kentucky about 27% do, up from 22% in 2005. In Louisville, about 26% of kids are poor.

Poverty status varies considerably by neighborhood. In Louisville’s St. Matthews neighborhood, for example, 14% of kids are poor. In Russell, at the other extreme, nearly 78% of kids live below the poverty line. In fact, in 13 (out of 24 total) Louisville neighborhoods, more than 25% of kids live below the poverty line.

Poverty is associated with numerous social ills, including low educational attainment, poor health, and food insecurity. Poverty causes stress in kids, making concentration in school difficult, and the dropout rate of poor kids is many times greater than the rate among more affluent kids. Kids who live in high-poverty neighborhoods also are more likely to witness and be victims of violence.

Contrary to common stereotypes, many poor people live in households where at least one member is employed. About 3% of full-time workers in Louisville live in a household whose total household income is below the poverty line. This amounts to more than 6200 full-time workers living in poverty in Louisville.  This includes families where more than one person works, and total household income is still below the poverty line. This figure does not include poor part-time workers or full-time workers who make below-poverty wages, but live in a household with other earners, where total household income is above the poverty line. This number does not reflect the large number of full-time workers whose earnings would be below the poverty line if they were the only earner in the household.

The GLP’s focus on Education, 21st Century Jobs, Quality of Place, and Health are clearly related to poverty, as evidence demonstrates its association with educational attainment, employment and wages, and health. In the coming months, as we release data and provide more discussion on Quality of Place and Quality of Life, we will share more data regarding poverty and how Louisville compares to our peer cities.

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