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Northwest Child Poverty Rates Show Patchwork Of Economic Recovery

A new Census Bureau report out Wednesday indicates the economic recovery is lifting children out of poverty unevenly around the Northwest.

The economic downturn carved an especially deep groove into rural counties on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and in far eastern Oregon. Malheur County, near Oregon’s border with Idaho, already struggled with a high child poverty rate back in 2007. It’s since grown by more than 10 percentage points.

Yet the data show other rural counties have moved in the opposite direction. Cassia and Minidoka counties in Idaho have slightly fewer children living in poverty now than before the recession.

Idaho Department of Labor economist Jan Roeser says these are also counties that have seen a flurry of new manufacturing plants.

“The job creation has really no doubt in my mind contributed to the lessening of poverty in general for those counties,” Roeser said.

Parts of central Washington -- Okanogan, Adams and Grant counties -- also saw small drops in the rate of school aged children living in poverty, though they remain above the state average.

Across Washington, the estimated average rate of school age children living in poverty is 17.6 percent. That number was 13.1 percent in 2007. In Oregon the average went from 15.2 to 19.3. Idaho’s grew from 13.9 to 18.3.

School age children are 5- to 17-year-olds. The federal government uses the data to help calculate Title I grants that assist schools in high-poverty areas.

Census Bureau estimates are based on the American Community Survey, data from federal tax records, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the 10-year census and population estimates.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Jessica Robinson
Jessica Robinson reported for four years from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho as the network's Inland Northwest Correspondent. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covered the economic, demographic and environmental trends that have shaped places east of the Cascades. Jessica left the Northwest News Network in 2015 for a move to Norway.