Childhood poverty declines, except for one group

For the first time since the government began collecting the data in 1974, the number of white children living in poverty may have fallen below the number of impoverished black children.

That's according to an analysis of Census Bureau data published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, which found 4.1 million white children and 4.2 million black children to be living in poverty in 2013.

"We can't statistically distinguish between the estimates -- it's too close to say," Mark Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research, said. However, if the trend persists, "we'll have a second group that surpasses white children" in the sheer number living in poverty, added Lopez of the unhappy distinction Hispanic children claimed in 2007.

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Overall, the numbers make clear that when it comes to poverty in the U.S., children are hardest hit. Those 18 years and younger represent a quarter of the overall population, but a third of impoverished Americans. Twenty percent, or 14.7 million American children, were growing up in poverty in 2013, down from 22 percent, or 16.3 million, in 2010.

And while the poverty rate declined for Hispanic, white and Asian children, it held steady at about 38 percent for black children, who were nearly four times as likely as as white or Asian children to be living in poverty in 2013, Pew found.

"For black children it's unchanged compared to what you see for everybody else," said Lopez. He cited as underlying factors an unemployment rate for African Americans that is twice that of whites, as well as large income disparities between the two groups.

In total numbers, more Hispanic children (5.4 million) were living in poverty in 2013 than any other group, as has been the case since at least 2008.

Poverty in 2013 was defined as living in a household with an annual income below $23,624 for a family of four with two related children.