SE’s Andrew Beveridge on Poverty and Employment Statistics in the New York Times by Sydney Beveridge
In “Newt’s War on Poor Children,” New York Times columnist Charles Blow looks at the data to scrutinize presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s statements about children and poverty. He takes on Gingrich’s recent claim that, “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”
Blow disputes this argument and cites data and analysis from Social Explorer’s Andrew Beveridge:
This statement isn’t only cruel and, broadly speaking, incorrect, it’s mind-numbingly tone-deaf at a time when poverty is rising in this country. He comes across as a callous Dickensian character in his attitude toward America’s most vulnerable — our poor children. This is the kind of statement that shines light on the soul of a man and shows how dark it is.
Furthermore, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, most poor children live in a household where at least one parent is employed. And even among children who live in extreme poverty — defined here as a household with income less than 50 percent of the poverty level — a third have at least one working parent. And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas — those in which 30 percent or more of the population is poor — nearly a third live with at least one working parent.
The article also includes a graphic “Poor Children, Working Families” based on analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from Andrew Beveridge.
After the article appeared Beveridge conducted further analysis, and it turns out that the a child’s neighborhood has little effect on the percent with working parents, anyone working in the household or the kids working themselves. (Those data are only available for 15 to 17 year olds.)
Looking at parents or anyone working in the household for kids in extreme poverty, the percentages are 34.5 percent for those with at least one parent working and 37.4 percent for those with any person 18 and over working in the household. Among the kids themselves, some 10.9 percent are working.
It is poverty itself, not the neighborhood, that mostly shapes these results. For instance, while 33.3 percent of those in extreme poverty in neighborhoods with at least 30 percent of population in poverty have someone in the household who is working, in those neighborhoods with poverty rates of less than 10 percent in poverty the figure is 40.2 percent.
Despite the fact that many of the poor live in single parent families and are on public assistance, this analysis shows that a substantial number of poor families are in fact working. They do not fit the common stereotype that neither their parents or anyone else the household works.