A Decade in the Wrong Direction: Wisconsin Student Poverty Rate Increases for the 10th Consecutive Year

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 2:52 PM by

A recent release from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction reports upsetting news concerning the state’s student poverty rate. The percentage of Wisconsin children representing low-income families has increased for yet another year.

In the 2013-14 school year 43.3 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches. Although this is only an increase of one-tenth of a percentage from the previous academic year, it is important to note that this pattern of seemingly small increases over the past decade has led to a near 14 percentage increase in the number of Wisconsin’s children who are from low-income families and thus, eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

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Students who are in families with an annual income that is less than 130% of the federal poverty level quality for free school meals, while students in families earning more than the 130% but less than 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive reduced-price lunches. Read more

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The True Cost of Cheap Eats: Fast Food Workers in Wisconsin Strike

Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 2:55 PM by

Fast food workers in Wisconsin are part of a national strike to rally for higher wages. Strikes took place in Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, and other Wisconsin cities. Workers are advocating for a wage floor of $15 an hour.

President’s Budget Would Help Make Work Pay for 252,000 Childless Wisconsinites

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 6:31 PM by

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 Wisconsinites Stand to Lose Unemployment Benefits Unless Congress Acts

Monday, December 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM by

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.

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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.

The Budget Project’s analysis notes that 36 percent of jobless workers have been unemployed six months or more, which is far above the rate of long-term unemployment in previous recessions. Read more

Large Employment Gap for American Indians in Wisconsin

Friday, November 29, 2013 at 4:11 PM by

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

War on Poverty, or War on the Poor?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 7:13 PM by

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.

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY, economy, income inequality, poverty | Comments Off

Wisconsin Families Still Reeling from Recession, New Analysis Shows

Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM by

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

Shrinking Unemployment Benefits Mean Fewer People Kept out of Poverty

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 11:11 AM by

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

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Wisconsin is #2 in Black-White Child Poverty Gap

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 2:41 PM by

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.

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY, poverty | Comments Off

Poverty: Not Just a Milwaukee Problem

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 4:03 PM by

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

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