In late 1997, the nation's unemployment rate of 4.6% was the lowest in nearly 25 years. More than two decades ago, during that earlier era of low unemployment, Hubert Humphrey proposed a "full employment bill" to the United States Congress. Humphrey's bill defined a "natural unemployment rate" of 5% as the limits of a full economy and he was criticized for setting an unrealistic goal. These all-time low unemployment statistics are noted at the outset of this chapter because of what to many may seem like a paradoxical, or at least untimely, task-drawing attention to ways that economic hardship compromises children's development. Not only is unemployment at an. all-time low, other indicators of a healthy economy, such as low inflation and moderate economic

growth, paint a rosy picture for raising children in the United States today. However, the rising tide of this economic recovery has not lifted all boats (Danzinger & Gottschalk, 1993; Wilson, 1991). Although child poverty rates fell during the 1960s, due in part to the War on Poverty, in the 1980s they rose sharply, such that by 1993,22.7% of children were classified as poor (Hernandez, 1997).