A U.S. Census Bureau report released Tuesday showed a statistically significant increase of poverty in about 20 percent of counties within the country between 2007 and 2010. According to the report, 653 counties saw an increase in poverty for children ages 5 to 17. Only eight counties saw a decrease.
Dade County School Superintendent Shawn Tobin, whose Georgia county was among those that saw a big jump in numbers, said the report confirmed trends he had already noticed. He said that more students within his district were qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch and that attendance had gone up, since students know they'll get at least two meals at school.
"It hits rural areas hard," Tobin told Timesfreepress.com. "We're using all available resources. Sometimes they're for basic needs."
That trend goes beyond Tobin's county school district. The number of students receiving subsidized lunch increased from 18 million in the 2006-2007 school year to 21 million last school year, The New York Times reports. Several states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Tennessee had a four-year increase of 25 percent or more.
In New Jersey, 13 of the state's 21 counties fell into the same category. The city of Wildwood had the highest percentage of impoverished school-age children in the state for the third consecutive year. Unfortunately, educators there weren't shocked by the numbers either.
"[Students] dont have the social and economic advantages that the middle class and above does," Wildwood Superintendent Dennis Anderson told Press of Atlantic City. "And in many ways, it breaks your heart."
The data represent the only current, single-year income and poverty estimates available for all counties and school districts. Although the estimates are released annually, 2007 was chosen to compare rates prior to the recession. The findings are used to help allocate federal and state funds to local communities.
A recent study founda href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/increase-in-extreme-poverty_n_1072505.html" target="_hplink">a spike in the number of Americans living in extreme poverty.
To see an interactive mapping tool of counties and school districts statistics click here.