Forum editorial: More ND children in poverty
North Dakota politicians and policy makers, proud of the state's economic success, might not be so proud if they examined the latest child poverty statistics from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The children's welfare foundation reported last mont...
North Dakota politicians and policy makers, proud of the state’s economic success, might not be so proud if they examined the latest child poverty statistics from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The children’s welfare foundation reported last month that North Dakota had the third-highest increase in child poverty in the nation from
2013-14. A jump of 25 percent in the child poverty rate in one year is nothing of which to be proud.
The disturbing statistic comes at a time when the state’s unemployment rate was the lowest in the nation. It comes at a time when the state’s economy – energy, agriculture and accelerating business and industry diversification – was exceptionally strong. Even with the significant downturn in the oil sector and a decline in farm commodity prices, North Dakota is doing well. And during the time the Casey Foundation measured child poverty, energy and ag were not slowing.
Historically, legislators and others who dismissed the state’s child poverty rate pointed to conditions on American Indian reservations as skewing the statistics. But recent analyses of the numbers by North Dakota Kids Count and other social service agencies suggest an increase in child poverty in cities like Fargo and Grand Forks is a significant part of the problem.
Moreover, the research indicates children in poverty come from homes where parents are working, but not earning enough to lift their families out of poverty. So while the state can crow about a low unemployment rate, the underemployment rate is a more telling measure when examining child poverty.
The 2013-14 Casey survey shows the 25 percent increase in child poverty can be attributed in part to an endemic and mostly invisible low-wage economy that defies the fashionable mantra: “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Even in a state whose leaders boast about a rising tide, the reality is that boats with children are taking on water and sinking. Surely, North Dakota can do better by its kids.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.