Annual County Data Book Shows Three-Quarters Of Oregon Childre Face Barriers To Economic Opportunity
Children First for Oregon’s 2015 County Data Book, released today, paints a sobering picture of economic opportunity for children in Oregon. Although the state’s economy has continued to strengthen overall, the 75% of Oregon children who either live outside of the metro area or are children of color are too often being left behind.
The 2015 County Data Book identifies how the changing nature of our economy is placing those Oregonians who were already most vulnerable at greater risk of economic insecurity. With the number of low wage jobs at an all-time high and middle income jobs increasingly hard to come by, children of color and children outside the metro area are the least likely to have access to higher education and the most likely to live in poverty.
“We are a state of trailblazers,” says Tonia Hunt, Children First’s Executive Director. “It is not in our DNA as a state to accept that destiny is cast at birth. But without immediate action, we risk relegating entire groups of children to a future of low wage jobs and poverty based purely on the color of their skin or place of birth.”
The Data Book highlights the importance of a Bachelor’s degree in keeping children from falling out of the middle class, at a time when Oregon’s high school graduation rate is the lowest in the country. Moreover, it identifies an economic divide between white, Portland metro families and all others throughout the state. White households have a median income of more than $60,000, which is $14,000 higher than for families outside the metro area and families of color statewide.
“Our educational and economic systems are failing too many Oregon families,” says Hunt. “To lay a foundation for future prosperity, we need jobs that pay a living wage, an education system that is more responsive to the diversity and needs of all of our communities, and an end to institutional racism.”
Although the 2015 Legislative Session made significant progress for children, Hunt says the playing field is still uneven. “For Oregon to be the best place to be a kid, every child must have an equal opportunity to succeed. Only when voters unite for children and demand better outcomes do we have the power to make positive, transformative change.”
Download a PDF of this press release here.
Download the full report here.
Children First for Oregon, founded in 1991, is a nonpartisan child advocacy organization, committed to improving the lives of Oregon's vulnerable children and families. Its mission is to make long-term, systemic change by advocating for policies and programs that keep children healthy and safe, and strengthen families.