The FY 2015 budget proposal unveiled by the President this week addresses an issue that many politicians, researchers and commentators across the political spectrum have recently been talking about – providing assistance to low-income working adults who don’t have dependent children. We were very pleased to see the part of his budget that would help that long-overlooked population by making more “childless” workers eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and increasing the small credit for those who are already eligible.
The EITC encourages and rewards work, offsets federal payroll and income taxes, and boosts living standards. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) points out: “Next to Social Security, the EITC combined with the refundable portion of the CTC [child tax credit] constitutes the nation’s most powerful anti-poverty program.” However, the federal EITC currently provides little or no benefit for adults who don’t have dependent children, and the Wisconsin EITC doesn’t apply to that population. Read more
Thousands of out-of-work Wisconsinites who have been searching for a job for a long time will lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year, unless Congress acts to renew federal unemployment benefits. According to a new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project, 65,500 jobless workers in Wisconsin will lose access to federal benefits over the next six months, as shown in the chart below.
Most states pay unemployment insurance benefits to jobless workers for a maximum of 26 weeks. In times of higher unemployment, Congress authorizes federally-funded benefits that provide assistance to people who reach the limit on their state-financed unemployment insurance. If the program that provides federal unemployment benefits is allowed to end, the maximum duration of unemployment benefits for jobless workers in Wisconsin will drop by more than half, from 54 weeks to 26 weeks.
November was Native American Heritage Month, but for most of the month all we have heard about was the mascot issue and casinos. The national stories about the “code-talkers” during World War II were a welcome exception to the dearth of positive stories about American Indians during the first half of the month, though those stories drew attention to just a very brief glimpse of Indian history and contributions.
In addition to wishing that the media would shed more light on Native Americans’ contributions to American history and culture, I would like to hear more about the economic challenges facing American Indians, particularly those living in “Indian country.” The following graphic, prepared by my colleague Tamarine Cornelius, shows that the unemployment rate for Native Americans in Wisconsin is almost twice the rate for non-Hispanic whites, and the poverty rate is more than two and a half times as high for Native Americans (25.3% vs. Read more
2014 is the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty,” and we can expect a lot of debate and posturing then about that ambitious undertaking. Expect some legislators to use the opportunity to urge that policymakers renew their commitment to fight poverty and reinvigorate some of the elements of that agenda, while others will take that opportunity to declare the war on poverty a failure and a mistake.
Many Wisconsin residents are still feeling the effects of the recession, according to a new county-level analysis released today by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
The income of a typical Wisconsin household is still significantly below what it was in 2008, according to the analysis. In 2012, a typical Wisconsin household had $51,000 in income, compared to $55,600 in 2008. If household incomes had stayed at 2008 levels instead of declining dramatically during the recession, a typical Wisconsin household would have earned an additional $14,700 between 2008 and 2012, compared to what it actually earned.
The WCCF analysis includes 21 county fact sheets that outline how residents of each county are faring with regards to poverty, income, and health insurance coverage. The fact sheets include comparisons to the state and national level, and include recommendations for making investments that will help Wisconsin residents lift themselves out of poverty and get access to health insurance. Read more
Today’s job numbers show little improvement in long-term unemployment
Unemployment benefits kept nearly two million people out of poverty last year, but that number has declined dramatically in recent years as policymakers have curtailed benefits available for unemployed workers, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And it will fall much more dramatically in January if Congress does not renew the federal extended benefits for the long-term unemployed.
In 2012, unemployment benefits lifted 1.7 million people above the federal poverty line, down from 3.2 million people in 2010, as shown in the chart below. Part of that decline in the number of people kept out of poverty stems from the fact that fewer workers are unemployed and therefore receiving unemployment benefits, but a much larger portion of the decline stems from the fact that fewer workers that are unemployed are receiving benefits. According to the report, the number of UI (Unemployment Insurance) recipients for every 100 unemployed workers fell from 67 in 2010 to 48 in 2012. Read more
Only one state had a bigger black-white child poverty gap in 2012 than Wisconsin, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Poverty is a problem across the entire state of Wisconsin, not just in Milwaukee, new numbers on poverty and income show. In fact, if poverty were a city in Wisconsin, it would be the state’s largest city.
Nearly three-quarter of a million Wisconsinites lived in poverty in 2012, according to new American Community Survey figures that were released last week. About one out of four people in poverty in Wisconsin live in Milwaukee County.
The other half a million people in poverty live in every corner of the state. The numbers released last week include information for 23 larger, urban counties in Wisconsin, so we don’t yet have updated numbers for rural counties. But we can see from the numbers we do have so far that poverty remains far too high in some unexpected places in Wisconsin.
For example, would you have guessed that the county with the second-highest poverty rate among the large counties is…Portage County? Read more
Three years into the nation’s recovery from recession, Wisconsin’s working families remain considerably worse off than they were before the economic collapse of 2008. New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that economic improvement remains elusive for the vulnerable households, and it could be several more years before the state’s median income and poverty rates return to their pre-recession levels.
According to data from the American Community Survey (ACS), nearly a quarter of a million (235,434) Wisconsin children were living below the poverty line last year. Wisconsin’s child poverty rate was 18.2% in 2012, no change from the previous year, and still well above the 13.4% rate in 2008.
Wisconsin’s overall poverty rate also remained stable last year, after climbing significantly in the previous two years. The state’s poverty rate in 2012 was 13.2%, considerably higher than its pre-recession 2008 rate of 10.8%.
Household income fell slightly in Wisconsin, following steep declines in recent years. Read more
Poverty Remains High, Median Income Remains Low, and Health Insurance Coverage Improves Modestly
Data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau reinforce the recent findings by economists that there is a very wide gap between the rich and the poor. The new Census figures for 2012 from the Current Population Survey (CPS) show that the painfully slow economic recovery has yet to help a large segment of Americans. Poverty remained high last year, at 15% nationally, and median income remained low — 8.3% below the 2007 level, before the Great Recession began.
In a New York Times blog post this afternoon, a graph prepared by Jared Bernstein uses the 2012 Census Bureau data to illustrate the diverging trend lines since 1967 in the household income of low, middle and upper income Americans. And as Bernstein notes, the divergence would be much wider if the Census Bureau didn’t exclude capital gains income from its data. Read more