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Five things to know about the new Austin-area child poverty data

Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that poverty in Central Texas, after improving for the last few years, grew marginally worse last year and remains above the national average.

One in four children in Travis County lived below the poverty line in 2014, according to the Census Bureau estimates. That is up from one in five children in 2013 but in keeping with the Census estimates from 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Here are five things to know about the data:

1. When adults are taken into account, 17.2 percent of Travis County residents were living below the poverty line last year, up from 16.1 percent the year before, an uptick within the margin of error.

2. Nationally, one in five children lived below the poverty line in 2014, almost identical to the percentage living in poverty in 2013, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.

3. Only one in 10 Williamson County children were living in poverty last year, according to the Census Bureau estimates. But nearly one in four Hays County children were.

4. These Census Bureau estimates, called the American Community Survey, are not the same as the door-to-door surveying done every decade. They use “a series of monthly samples to produce annually updated estimates,” according to the Census Bureau. In Texas, for example, the Census Bureau started by trying to reach 249,279 households in 2014, with 146,897 interviewed, out of an estimated 10.4 million statewide.

5. During this year’s city budget deliberations, social service organizations pointed to the area’s poverty statistics in persuading the council to add more than $7 million in Austin’s social service spending.

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