WASHINGTON – More than 20 percent of children in the Ocean State live with a parent who is either unemployed or underemployed, according to a report from the Urban Institute.
The report – “Unemployment from a Child’s Perspective” – examined the efficacy of unemployment insurance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and was released with children’s advocacy group First Focus.
According to the report, 22 percent of Rhode Island’s children lived with an unemployed or underemployed parent in 2012.
Of Rhode Island’s 47,700 children living with an unemployed or underemployed parent, 27,300 lived with a parent who was unemployed, 12,600 lived with a parent who was described as “working part-time involuntarily,” and 9,400 lived with a parent “not in the labor force but wants a job.”
The 13 percent of children in Rhode Island in 2012 (27,300) who lived with a parent who was unemployed was the highest percentage of any state in the country and tied with Washington, D.C., for the most in the United States.
The 27,300 children represented a 93 percent increase from the 14,100 children in Rhode Island living with an unemployed parent before the recession in 2007.
On a more positive note, the 2012 figure represents a 15 percent improvement from the state’s high in 2011, when 31,400 children in Rhode Island lived with an unemployed parent.
In the United States as a whole, 17 percent of children lived with an unemployed or underemployed parent, according to the report, with 9 percent living with an unemployed parent.
“One in six children live with an unemployed or underemployed parent, so our leaders should be doing everything they can to prevent kids from falling through the cracks,” Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, said in prepared remarks.
The report found that, across the U.S., unemployment insurance reaches “just 36 percent of children with at least one unemployed parent.” While more than one quarter of children with unemployed parents have incomes limited enough to be eligible for SNAP or TANF, they did not receive the larger unemployment insurance benefits in 2012.
“The remaining 35 percent of children impacted by parental unemployment do not receive any of these three benefits designed to support unemployed or low-income families,” said the report. “Families experiencing long-term unemployment and the exhaustion of available federal unemployment benefits are particularly vulnerable to economic stress.”