As one of the wealthiest states in the country Connecticut and its children have made it through the Great Recession in better shape than their counterparts in other parts of the nation. But a new study indicates that 46,000 of the state’s families have lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007 and in 2010 an estimated 79,000 Connecticut children lived in households where at least one parent was unemployed and seeking work.
“Connecticut’s overall wealth hides the fact that so many children and families are still suffering from the effects of the recession,” said Jim Horan, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services, a statewide nonprofit organization that administers the Connecticut KIDS COUNT Project and issues an annual study called the KIDS COUNT Data Book.
“Connecticut’s unemployment rate is still high at 9.1 percent,” Horan added. “While the overall foreclosure rate has slowed, in eastern Connecticut — New London and Windham Counties — the foreclosure rate increased between May and June, mainly due to layoffs at Mohegan Sun, Pfizer, and Electric Boat. Connecticut families are not out of the economic woods yet.”
The results of one key indicator in the study bear out those economic realities among children in Meriden, Middletown and East Hampton.
In Middletown, for example, the number of families using the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP), what used to be the federal food stamp program, jumped nearly 60 percent, from 1,162 in 2001 to 2,038 in 2009 (the most recent data available for the program).
To participate in SNAP a family’s net monthly income must be 100 percent or less of federal poverty guidelines. For instance, a family of four could not have net income of more than $1,838 per month to qualify.
Meriden also saw a nearly 65 percent increase in the number families using the SNAP between 2001 and 2009, with the number of families in that city using the food assistance program jumping from 3,584 to 5,390.
In East Hampton the number of low-income families using SNAP saw an even more dramatic rise, skyrocketing from 67 families in 2001 to 162 families in 2009, an increase of nearly 250 percent.
This is the first time the study, which looks at economic impacts on families and children, compiled data specifically on the impact of the recession families nationally and in Connecticut. The study determined that there was an 18 percent increase in the U.S. child poverty rate between 2000 and 2009. During that same time period, the study indicates, Connecticut’s child poverty rate increased by 8 percent.
“The national increase means that 2.5 million more American children are living below the federal poverty line ($21,756 for a family of two adults and two children), wiping out the gains made on this important measure in the late 1990’s,” the human services agency said in a press release issued today.
“This is the first National KIDS COUNT Data Book that reports state-level data from the Great Recession,” said Jude Carroll, the study’s director. “As we’ve seen in the past, Connecticut almost always ranks among the top 10 states in terms of child well-being. While this is great for children whose families have not experienced hardship caused by the economic downturn, we need to seriously consider the situations of children whose parents have lost jobs. The National KIDS COUNT Data Book shows that almost 30 percent of Connecticut children live in families with parents who do not have secure employment. For these children, the loss of family income could compromise their developmental outcomes.”