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Tuesday, June 21 , 2016
For Immediate Release
NEWARK, N.J.— According to the 2016 KIDS COUNT® Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a significant number of teens took steps toward improving their future prospects. Comparing data between 2008 and 2014, the teen birth rate in New Jersey fell 46 percent and drug and alcohol abuse dropped 29 percent for the state of New Jersey. New Jersey’s 2014 teen birth rate (13 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19) fell below the national average (24 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19), while posting stats equivalent to the nationwide percentage of teens abusing drugs or alcohol (5 percent).
These improvements are remarkable given the economic challenges faced by far too many of their families. In New Jersey, 16 percent of children lived in poverty in 2014—a slight improvement over 2013, and more than one in four children live in families where no member of the household has full-time, year-round employment. This compares to 22 percent of children living in poverty and 30 percent of children living in families where no member of the household has full-time, year round employment nationwide.
Key New Jersey trends include gains in health insurance but worsened poverty and racial inequity
The percent of children without health insurance has decreased to 5 percent in 2014 for the state of New Jersey as a whole from 2010-2014. Nationwide, state health insurance covered close to an additional 3 million children.
“The decrease in the rates of children without health insurance is a success story for New Jersey,” said Cecilia Zalkind, President and CEO, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which produces the state-level Kids Count reports. “It is a tribute to the work of advocates and government agencies working in partnership to improve child well-being. We need to use that approach to resolve other barriers to child well-being, such as the racial inequity across many indicators, particularly economic well-being.”
Teenagers growing up in low-to moderate-income households have fewer opportunities to move up the economic ladder compared to adults in the previous two generations. A college degree is now required to qualify for most middle-income positions, but rising tuition costs and a shift in financial aid away from needs-based grants to loans has put a post-secondary education out of reach for most low-income students. Armed with only a high school degree, the future prospects for young adults are bleak. Nationally, among recent high school graduates, the unemployment rate was 28 percent for Blacks, 17 percent for Latinos and 15 percent for whites. Those with jobs earned, on average, $10.66 an hour, which was less than wages in 2000 when adjusted for inflation.
“With rising higher education costs, stagnant wages and a flimsy social safety net, teens are less likely than their parents or grandparents to obtain economic security,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “For the sake of our economy and our society, we must reverse this trend to ensure that today’s youth—who will be the next generation of workers, parents and community leaders—have a successful transition to adulthood and beyond.”
“Generation Z is the most diverse yet, and children of color are already the majority in 12 states. By the end of the decade, children of color will be the majority of all children in the United States,” said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy. “Our shared future depends on today’s young people fulfilling their potential.”
National and State Rankings for the 2016 Data Book
Bipartisan solutions based on American values
The 2016 Data Book will be available June 21 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing