Fewer Wisconsinites are Struggling Thanks to Help from the Government

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 3:48 PM by

Wisconsin Should Do More to Build On This Success

The federal government made a big difference in the lives of struggling people in 2014, showing the powerful role governments can play in creating opportunity and helping people build a more secure future. An analysis of new data from the Census Bureau demonstrates the success of federal programs and underscores the need for Wisconsin to do more to build on that success through its own opportunity-expanding policies, such as increasing the minimum wage and reversing cuts to the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Almost one in five Wisconsin children live in families that made so little in 2014 that they were below the federal poverty level, according to new Census Bureau data released last week – meaning that they couldn’t afford basic necessities. The poverty level is currently $11,770 for a single person and $24,250 for a family of four. Fortunately, key safety net supports are keeping millions from living in dire circumstances, something not captured in the official poverty measure.  Read more

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Census Figures Show Economic Growth Isn’t Widely Shared

Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 6:07 PM by

Wisconsin Needs to Make Investments that Help Put People on the Path to Economic Security

Many Wisconsin families continue to struggle to make ends meet, according to new figures released today. We have our work cut out for us to make sure that all Wisconsin families have the opportunity to build a better, more secure future for themselves.

Five years into the nation’s recovery from recession, Wisconsin’s working families remain considerably worse off than they were before. Nearly three-quarters of a million Wisconsinites lived in poverty in 2014, according to today’s release of new Census data, which is 150,000 more than in 2007.  Poverty is more prevalent among children than adults, with about 1 in 6 Wisconsin kids in poverty last year. Read more

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The State of Working Wisconsin 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015 at 9:00 AM by

A new report issued in conjunction with the Labor Day weekend by COWS provides a thorough examination of Wisconsin job numbers, wages, poverty, and job quality, and it provides a sobering assessment of how working people in Wisconsin are doing:

Wisconsin faces slow growth, extreme racial disparity in unemployment, long-term stagnation in wages, and one-fourth of workers struggling in poverty-wage jobs.” 

The new COWS report – The State of Working Wisconsin 2015 – illustrates that as the national economy has gradually rebounded following the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s job growth has lagged behind.  COWS’ analysis concludes that “if Wisconsin had enjoyed the same rate of job growth as the rest of the nation across the course of the recovery, the state would have 90,000 more jobs today.”  The national growth rate from January 2011 through June of this year was 60% faster than the job growth Wisconsin experienced during that time..  Read more

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2015 Federal Poverty Levels

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:09 PM by

Federal officials recently released the 2015 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, better known as the federal poverty levels (FPL). States and the federal government use the guidelines to determine eligibility for many public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, BadgerCare and child care subsidies.

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Five Things to Know about Poverty in Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 1:54 PM by

Four years into the nation’s recovery from recession, too many Wisconsin families are worse off than they were before the economic collapse of 2008. New Census figures give us an updated picture of poverty in Wisconsin, and what we can do to address it.

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Wisconsin’s Slow Economic Recovery Leaves Many Behind

Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 3:22 PM by

Wisconsin’s gradual economic recovery still hasn’t substantially expanded economic opportunity for working people and families. Median incomes are still well below their pre-recession level, and our state’s elevated poverty levels have yet to begin declining.

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Wisconsin Women Twice as Likely as Men to Hold a Low-Wage Job

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 1:06 PM by

Women are vastly-overrepresented in jobs that pay low wages, in Wisconsin and across the country, according to a new report from the National Women’s Law Center.

Women’s educational attainment and work experience have increased dramatically in recent decades, but they are still far more likely than men to work at low-wage jobs, which are defined in the report as jobs that pay $10.10 an hour or less. In Wisconsin, 1 in 5 women work in low-wage jobs – adding up to nearly a quarter of a million workers. In contrast, only about 1 in 12 men in Wisconsin work in low wage jobs. Put another way, Wisconsin women are 2.3 times as likely as Wisconsin men to work for low wages.

Many women who work in low-wage jobs are parents, according to the report. Nearly one-third of women nationally who work at low-wage jobs are mothers, and nearly half of these mothers are single. Read more

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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.


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

Categories: Blog, ECONOMIC SECURITY, EDUCATION, K-12, poverty | Comments Off

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