Children’s HealthWatch wrote a short brief on the continued hardships families face as a result of the Great Recession.

Household Hardship & Employment Among Households with Very Young Children, 2006-2012

Rates of household and child food insecurity increased dramatically over the recession years among families with young children seeking care at safety net hospitals in Baltimore, Boston, Little Rock, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. Rates of household food insecurity have remained high – reaching just over 27% in 2011. Other household hardships like housing insecurity and energy insecurity also rose and fell somewhat, but the temporal connection to the recession was less clear. Nevertheless it is of note that the prevalence for both hardships remained consistently high – indicating that families’ efforts to adequately heat and cool their homes and maintain secure housing was likely an ongoing struggle. One factor may be that assistance programs to address housing and energy issues are designed differently than food assistance and operate on a first come-first served model and/or with waiting lists, with the result that not all those who need or are eligible for help actually receive it.

In addition, job loss, reduced work hours and low wages for those caregivers who remain employed certainly may contribute to the problem of high ongoing rates of household hardship. Rates of job loss and reduced work hours among working mothers of very young children in 5 U.S. cities rose during the Great Recession and decreased in 2011 and 2012. These trends mirrored the national trends of increased joblessness and underemployment.

This brief was made possible by generous funding from the Claneil Foundation.