Children & Youth
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2012-16


Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2012-16

What does this measure?

The number of children under 18 within a racial or ethnic group who live below the federally defined poverty line, expressed as a percentage of all children under 18 with the same racial or ethnic group. Poverty thresholds vary by family composition and year. In 2016, the threshold for a four-person family with two children was $24,339.

Why is this important?

Children raised in impoverished environments are at higher risk for a wide variety of health and social problems, including poor performance in school. The challenges they face in childhood can diminish their chances for successful adult lives, Studies have found that the stress of living in poverty can cause biological changes in children that can lead to long-term health problems. Throughout the nation, racial disparities across many indicators of well-being (including poverty rates) are persistent, troubling and in need of attention.

How is our county performing?

In 2012-16, the poverty rate for Hispanic (47%) and African American (34%) children in Berks County was much higher than among white and Asian children (17% and 21%, respectively). These rates have increased since 2000 for all groups, rising the most (9 percentage points) for white children.

Disparities were smaller in the central region of the county in 2012-16 compared to the county as a whole. However, poverty rates were higher for all groups, including African-American (47%), Hispanic (55%), and white (46%) children. In the City of Reading, 54% of African-American, 57% of Hispanic and 55% of white children lived in poverty in 2012-16. Since 2000, this represented an increase of 10 percentage points for Hispanic children, 16 points for African-American children and 27 points for white children.

Berks County's child poverty rate for Hispanic children was 7 percentage points higher than Pennsylvania and 16 points higher than the nation. For African-American children, the county's poverty rate was slightly lower than the state (38%) and the nation (37%). While all neighboring counties had racial and ethnic disparities in 2012-16 Chester and Montgomery counties had lower poverty rates for Hispanic and African-American children than Berks County. Black and Hispanic populations in Lebanon and Schuylkill counties were too small to make accurate comparisons.

Notes about the data

For additional detail as to how the Berks County regions are defined and which boroughs and townships are included in each, see the About Us page.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Poverty status is not reported for people in institutions, including college dormitories and military barracks, and people in living situations without conventional housing. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people may show up in both a racial and ethnic group.

The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined 5 years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.

Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2012-16
AsianBlack or African/AmericanHispanicWhite
United States13%37%31%17%
Pennsylvania15%38%40%14%
Berks County21%****34%47%17%
Berks County Regions
Central43%******47%55%46%
Northeast38%******12%**
South6%******15%******22%****5%**
Southeast30%******6%******5%****
West44%******12%******9%**
Reading city60%******54%57%55%
Berks County Peers
Chester County3%******31%28%7%
Lancaster County9%****41%34%13%
Lebanon County21%******18%******38%11%
Lehigh County8%****33%38%15%
Montgomery County6%**19%19%6%
Schuylkill County22%******62%**46%16%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Number of Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2012-16
AsianBlack or African/AmericanHispanicWhite
United States425,8243,819,9405,525,2678,267,981
Pennsylvania13,523137,594115,105277,621
Berks County270****1,90213,71912,121
Berks County Regions
Central114******1,51412,5177,354
Northeast263******1,081**
South25******108******410****678**
Southeast31******15******430****
West77******71******845**
Reading city79******1,41312,0686,720
Berks County Peers
Chester County190******1,9553,5637,250
Lancaster County245****2,8816,23213,667
Lebanon County82******137******2,3282,820
Lehigh County235****2,45310,5788,471
Montgomery County842**3,2012,5427,610
Schuylkill County41******298**8484,162

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2000
AsianBlack or African/AmericanHispanicWhite
United States14%33%28%11%
Pennsylvania17%36%38%10%
Berks County15%33%42%8%
Berks County Regions
Central24%38%46%22%
Northeast10%5%
South3%10%3%
Southeast22%4%
West12%6%
Reading city25%38%47%28%
Berks County Peers
Chester County5%23%16%4%
Lancaster County7%34%34%9%
Lebanon County16%53%37%9%
Lehigh County8%40%39%9%
Montgomery County8%19%16%3%
Schuylkill County10%25%25%12%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Number of Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2000
AsianBlack or African/AmericanHispanicWhite
United States343,7253,467,9003,339,1705,469,560
Pennsylvania9,115129,20454,030234,932
Berks County1471,3316,2635,888
Berks County Regions
Central1081,2326,0133,171
Northeast28521
South1159418
Southeast10328
West21571
Reading city1081,2255,9783,028
Berks County Peers
Chester County1141,5578593,860
Lancaster County1441,4943,5629,435
Lebanon County601808902,288
Lehigh County1501,4904,9145,279
Montgomery County5862,6977654,576
Schuylkill County1179893,570

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




INDICATORS TREND | BERKS COUNTY
Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population Ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Increasing
Local Government Spending Increasing
County Government Spending Decreasing
School District Spending Increasing
Quality Early Childhood Centers Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on High School Reading Increasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage by Household Type Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Decreasing
Managed Medicaid Enrollment Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Children Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Youth Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Vacant Housing Units Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Maintaining
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Increasing
Tourism Spending Decreasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Charitable Contributions as a Percentage of Income Increasing
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing