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NYC Poverty Rate Jumped, Affecting 1 in 4 Children

It's the largest increase in the city's poverty rate since 2012.
Food Insecurity, BK Reader
A soup kitchen. Photo credit: Food Bank for NYC

Between 2021 and 2022, the number of New Yorkers living in poverty grew from 1.5 million to 2 million, with nearly 500,000 more people in New York living in poverty than the year prior.

Robin Hood, in collaboration with Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, released its sixth Poverty Tracker Annual Report, which assesses rates of income poverty, material hardship and economic disadvantage across New York City in 2022.

Among the report’s findings, New York is facing an increase in the poverty rate from 18% in 2021 to 23% in 2022, which puts the city’s poverty rate at nearly double the national average (12%). This is the largest single-year increase in the citywide poverty rate since the Poverty Tracker research group began collecting data in 2012.

About one in four children are living in poverty, while Latino New Yorkers were twice as likely to live in poverty compared to white New Yorkers (26% vs. 13%), according to the report. Poverty rates were also higher among Asian and Black New Yorkers (24% and 23%, respectively).

“Our city is in the midst of an affordability crisis," said Richard R. Buery Jr., CEO of Robin Hood.

He said it was alarming that the current report observes the sharpest one-year increase in poverty we’ve found since launching the study in 2012.

"This would be deeply troubling at any point, but it is particularly disturbing given the steady progress New York City has made to reduce poverty in years prior — including during the pandemic, where 500,000 children avoided poverty thanks to temporary, stabilizing government policies,” Buery said. “We know that fully refundable tax credits, housing vouchers, and childcare subsidies can move millions out of poverty and hardship. But we have lacked the will to keep these policies in force. We are calling on lawmakers to make investments that will help our neighbors live lives of opportunity.”

Over the years, the Poverty Tracker has found that government policy effectively fights poverty. In 2021, for example, the temporarily expanded federal Child Tax Credit alone reduced child poverty in New York City by more than 30%. In 2022, the child poverty rate jumped by 66% – rising from 15% to 25%.

The findings show that pandemic-era policies stabilized life for many, but as benefits expired, hardship and poverty became more widespread. These policy shifts, coupled with soaring rent prices, historically elevated levels of inflation, and the rising costs of basic needs made it nearly impossible to make ends meet, much less withstand the financial shocks brought on in this economic climate.