The federal government published the 2013 poverty levels yesterday. The new level is $19,530 for a family of three, which is up 2.3% from last year.
The Wisconsin Budget Project has updated our tables showing how the latest poverty level figures relate to the eligibility standards for different public benefits, and converting the annual dollar amounts into monthly and hourly numbers.
Read more in today’s WCCF blog post.
Jon Peacock Read more
UWM Study Examines Income Challenges for Single-parent Families in Milwaukee County and Inner City
Shortly before Christmas, researchers at the UW-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute (ETI) released a very interesting and sobering analysis of income trends and challenges for Milwaukee’s low-income families, particularly single mothers raising children. Their report includes an analysis of the income tax records of Milwaukee County family tax filers (with dependents) from 2007 through 2011.
One of the key findings of the report by Lois Quinn and John Pawasarat is that the cut to the Wisconsin earned income tax credit (EITC) in the 2011-13 budget bill cost Milwaukee County families $7.7 million when they filed their 2011 tax returns. Some of the other findings relating to the EITC include the following:
- Inner city Milwaukee “working poor” families were hit the hardest, losing $4.3 million, which was a drop of 25% relative to their 2010 credits (compared to 22% for EITC recipients in the county as a whole).
New Data Show Many Wisconsinites Haven’t Benefited Yet from the Slow Economic Recovery
Two years into the nation’s slow recovery from the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s working families are finally beginning to experience some signs of an improving economy. But the new Census Bureau figures released today (from the American Community Survey) reveal that the gradual economic gains have not been evenly distributed and have yet to benefit many of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable households. For example:
- Median household income was $50,395 last year, almost 8% below the 2007 level ($54,737).
- Median income for Black households in the state was just $24,399 in 2011, less than half the $52,444 earned by White households.
- Wisconsin’s child poverty rate was 18.2% in 2011, which represents an improvement from 19.1% in 2010, yet that difference was not statistically significant, and the rate remains far above the 13.4% level in 2008.
- The Black child poverty rate (49% in 2011) was nearly four times the rate for White children in Wisconsin.
A report issued over the Labor Day weekend paints a troubling picture of trends for Wisconsin workers. The new State of Working Wisconsin report by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) contains a wealth of information about trends in the state and national economies.
The report notes that the sluggish recovery from the long and deep recession has been disappointing nationally, and even more so in Wisconsin last year as our state “fell off the weak national and regional pace of job growth.” Although the state’s poor job performance in 2011 triggered debate about which source of jobs data to use, the COWS report says that regardless of the data source, “our job market is a national and regional laggard.”
Analyzing the data source recommended by the Governor and Department of Workforce Development, COWS researchers found the following:
- Wisconsin’s rate of job growth in 2011 was the lowest in the Midwest.
IRP Research Shows Antipoverty Programs Reduced Unofficial Poverty Rate in Wisconsin in 2010
A report released Wednesday by the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at UW Madison examines the effects of the antipoverty programs on the poverty rate in Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, the official measure of poverty shows an increase in Wisconsin between 2009 and 2010. However, the IRP’s alternative gauge of poverty (the “Wisconsin Poverty Measure” or WPM) showed a decrease in the poverty from 11.1% to 10.3%.
Whereas the official poverty measure is based just on pre-tax cash income, the WPM uses a broader lens that also examines taxes, tax credits, and “near cash” income such as food stamps. Last year the IRP concluded that from 2008 to 2009 the alternative poverty measure was flat in Wisconsin, because the drop in families’ income was offset by tax credits and food assistance benefits, which were enhanced that year by the federal Recovery Act. Read more
New data released Monday by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) show yet another increase in the percentage of students meeting the income requirement to receive free or reduced-price school meals in Wisconsin’s public schools – marking the eighth consecutive year that the percentage has increased. The DPI data for the 2011-12 school year show that 353,339 students in the state were identified as being eligible for free- or reduced-price meals – an increase of 7,155 students or 2.1 percent compared to the previous school year.
We’ve noted on previous occasions that Census Bureau data show that child poverty has increased sharply in Wisconsin in recent years, but the most recent Census figures are from 2010. The school meal statistics were collected in October 2011, and although they don’t conclusively prove that poverty is still growing, they certainly reflect the long increase in economic hardship and indicate that it does not appear to be abating. Read more
It May Be Ground Hog Day for the Homestead Credit, But Not for Other Benefits
We noted earlier in the week that the Wisconsin Homestead Tax Credit is no longer being adjusted to reflect increases in the cost of living. Over the last two decades the maximum Homestead credit has remained virtually unchanged (except for tax year 2010), and the frozen formula means that a person living solely on a Social Security benefit could expect a Homestead Credit in 1991 with a value (in current dollars) more than two and a half times as large as the 2011 credit. To put it a little differently, for the past twenty years almost every day has been Ground Hog Day – with Bill Murray waking up to the same Homestead Credit formula (yet a steadily eroding credit).
Fortunately, it isn’t Ground Hog Day for other public benefits, which are typically adjusted each year to reflect changes in the cost of living. Read more
When we give thanks on Thursday, let’s remember that there are many public programs providing critically important assistance to people who aren’t as fortunate. Among those important government programs are a number that are succeeding in lifting low-wage Americans and unemployed workers out of poverty. Unfortunately, some of those programs are under assault.
In two WCCF blog posts yesterday, we examined: 1) the new Supplemental Poverty Measure developed by the Census Bureau, and 2) a special analysis using that measure, which was done for the New York Times to examine the role of various government programs in helping lift millions of Americans out of poverty. That analysis, which the Times reported on over the weekend, found that a surprisingly large number of Americans – 51 million according to the Supplemental Poverty measure – are in a category called the “near poor” between 100 and 150 percent of the poverty line. The special analysis found that nearly 20 percent of the people in that group were kept above the poverty line by government programs that supplement income. Read more
Today, the Census Bureau released new poverty and income figures for 2010 that are detailed enough to be broken down to the county level. The WCCF blog is posting a series of analyses that examine recent (and troubling) trends in overall poverty, child poverty, household income, and health insurance coverage.
Today’s WCCF post examines the spike in child poverty in Wisconsin. The number of children living in poverty in Wisconsin increased by 43 percent between 2008 and 2010. Nearly one out of five children in Wisconsin livedi n poverty in 2010. In Milwaukee County, one out of three children lived in poverty.
Although child poverty is increasing across the country, Wisconsin’s rate is increasing faster than the national average.
For more information, check out today’s post at the WCCF blog, and keep an eye out for upcoming posts addressing related topics.
Tamarine Cornelius Read more
The federal Recovery Act kept 4.5 million people out of poverty, according to a recent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) analysis of Census Bureau figures.
Back in September, the Census Bureau released figures showing that according to the official measure of poverty, the poverty rate increased from 13.2 percent in 2008 to 14.3 percent in 2009. The Wisconsin Budget Project blog post on that topic is here.
The official poverty measure paints a somewhat incomplete picture, since it doesn’t include tax credits or non-cash assistance when determining whether an individual falls below the poverty line. This means the official measure may have somewhat overstated the percent of people in poverty, since the measure did not take into account the assistance many struggling families received through provisions in the Recovery Act.
CBPP’s report highlights recently-released poverty figures from the Census Bureau that rely on alternative measures of poverty. These alternative measures include tax credits as well as non-cash benefits and therefore give a more complete picture of the change in poverty status between 2008 and 2009. Read more