American public schools enrolled over a million homeless students during the 2011-2012 school year, the highest number on record, according to new government data.
Figures from the US Department of Education show that 1.1 million students were homeless last school year, a 10 percent increase since the 2010-2011 school year.
The number of homeless students in US public schools has increased by 72 percent since the beginning of the recession in 2007, the report said.
“Headlines are filled with indicators that the economy is improving, but the record numbers of homeless students show that children and their families are still feeling the effects of a tough economy,” Bruce Lesley, president of the children’s advocacy group First Focus, said in a statement.
North Dakota faced a 212 percent increase in student homelessness just since the 2010-2011 school year. Michigan, Maine, North Carolina, Wyoming, Vermont and South Dakota all experienced more than a 20 percent increase.
California, New York, Texas, and Florida have the highest number of homeless students.
A study earlier this month by the Southern Education Foundation found that a majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades.
Researchers found that children from low-income families dominated classrooms in 13 states in the South and four Western states with the largest populations in 2011.
“This is incredible,” said Michael A. Rebell, the executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Columbia University, who was shocked by the rapid spike in poverty. He said the change helps explain why the United States is lagging in comparison with other countries in international tests.