Poverty Has Soared in New York, With Children Bearing the Brunt

The report, part of a study that began in 2012, was based on surveys of a representative sample of more than 3,600 New York City residents that were conducted in 2022 and 2023.

The researchers used a metric called the supplemental poverty measure, which considers both income and noncash support like food stamps, as well as the local cost of living.

It differs from the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure, which only counts cash resources, but versions of the supplemental measure are also widely used by government officials, including in reports put out by the city.

In 2022, under the supplemental measure, a family of New York City renters made up of two adults and two children was considered below the poverty line if it made less than about $44,000. The poverty threshold for a single adult renter was $20,340.

A major reason for the disparities seen among those living in poverty is the lopsided jobs recovery, said James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School.

Dr. Parrott, a former chief economist for New York City, was not involved with the poverty report, but broadly agreed with its findings.

“A lot of the progress made in the prepandemic years in reducing poverty and child poverty has been undone with diverging unemployment rates by race and ethnicity,” Dr. Parrott said.

While the city said in October that it had recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic, the positions that have returned have largely been in low-paying industries.

The retail sector, which pays around $54,000 a year and employs a large share of Black, Latino and Asian workers, has shed more jobs than any other industry, Dr. Parrott said. But the industry that is hiring the most employees, home health care, pays workers far less — around $32,100 a year. The median household income in New York City is about $75,000.

The average unemployment rate in 2023 among Black New Yorkers was 9.3 percent, more than three times higher than among white residents, according to Dr. Parrott.

“The Covid-19 pandemic took a disproportionate toll on our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Charles Lutvak, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Adams. But he pointed to a number of initiatives, including investments in a summer youth employment program and the expansion of the city’s earned-income tax credit, as signs of progress.

A full 25 percent of children in New York City lived in poverty in 2022, the highest rate since 2015, according to the report.

It was a sharp reversal from 2021, when the expansion of the federal child tax credit program cut child poverty in the city by 30 percent, said Chloe Sarnoff, the director of policy research and initiatives at Robin Hood.

The program temporarily increased the annual tax credit to up to $3,600 from $2,000 for each qualifying child under 6 years old, and up to $3,000 for older children. But Congress did not extend the benefits.

The need for public aid is clear at Grand Street Settlement, a nonprofit social services group in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn that has seen its food pantry lines swell to 2,800 people a month, up from 500 before the pandemic.

A growing child care crisis is fueling the rising poverty rate. “If we’re going to reduce poverty in the city of New York, we have to invest in child care,” said Robert Cordero, the group’s chief executive, adding that dwindling support from the city for its free preschool program is making it harder for parents to make ends meet.

Shavon Johnson, 30, who lives in public housing on the Lower East Side, is a recent widow who was fired in September from her job as a dog food cook, where she made $20 an hour. She said she was let go because she couldn’t get to work on time and still drop her 4-year-old son, Dominique, off at school.

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