It’s a significant dent.
The share of Massachusetts children living in poverty is down, and state job growth along with recent boosts in the minimum wage are cited as big factors pushing the positive trend.
The data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show the child poverty rate for Massachusetts dropped from nearly 15 percent in 2014 to 13.3 percent in 2016.
Andrew Farnitano, with Raise Up Massachusetts, said the report shows the boost in the state’s minimum wage from $8 to $11 dollars an hour over the past three years has made a big difference.
“The poverty level is down; the state’s economy has added more than 150,000 jobs; and we’re finally seeing incomes rise for working people, because that hasn’t been happening in the past few decades,” he explained.
Farnitano said that until recently, almost all of the economic gains have gone to those at the top. With the recent wage increases, he said that has started to change, but he adds there is still plenty left to be done. According to the new data, more than one in eight children in Massachusetts still live in households that are in poverty.
Farnitano said both state and national economies are gaining steam, but the slow pace of the recovery from the Great Recession is still leaving many families behind.
“Too many low-wage workers can’t keep up with the cost of living, with rent and energy bills and groceries; even when they work two or three jobs—and especially if they are trying to support a family,” he lamented.
Farnitano said that’s why his group is focused on raising the minimum wage to $15, passing paid family and medical leave and investing in transportation and public education. He said that this is how the state can continue to make progress and grow the economy from the bottom up.
The child poverty rate dropped nationwide by just over 1 percent, but 13.8 million children are still living in poverty.
Via Commonwealth News Service.