Oregon ranks 32nd in overall well-being

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SALEM (AP) — An annual ranking of the well-being of American children shows Oregon’s kids suffer from poverty, underemployment and high housing costs.

The annual Kids Count survey from the Annie E. Casey Foundation puts Oregon at 41st in economic well-being and 32nd overall, The Oregonian reported.

The rankings, which track 16 indicators of child well-being, are in their 25th year. This year’s results, released Monday, showed about 37 percent of Oregon children have parents who lack secure employment and 24 percent live in poverty, defined as a family of four that makes less than $22,811.

Oregon’s child poverty rate is up from 18 percent in 2005.

“We are encouraged to see signs of an economic recovery overall, but the increase in childhood poverty tells us that jobs are not adequately supporting families,” said Robin Christian, executive director of Children First for Oregon, a children’s advocacy nonprofit in Portland.

Most of the statistics used in this year’s study come from 2011 figures released by government agencies.

Among the Oregon findings:

45 percent of children live in households that devote more than 30 percent of their income to housing costs. Nationally, the figure is 40 percent.

6.3 percent of babies have low birth weights, lower than the 8.1 percent nationally.

70 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading, higher than the 68 percent nationally.

As budgets for 2013-2015 are nearing final form, advocates for children and social services continue to push Oregon lawmakers to increase funding for job-training programs, employment-related daycare and cash assistance for needy families.

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