Five Things to Know about Poverty in Wisconsin
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 that were released last month give us an updated picture of poverty in Wisconsin, and what we can do to address it.
Here are five things to know about poverty in Wisconsin.
1. Poverty hurts us all, regardless of income level. It’s clear that living in poverty can inflict long-term damage on children and families, making it harder for them to reach their full economic potential. What’s less obvious is that poverty also harms Wisconsin businesses, which need customers who have money in their pockets to spend, and communities, which are struggling to provide a high standard of living for their residents.
2. Children are more likely than adults to be poor. Nearly 1 out of 5 Wisconsin children lived in poverty last year, compared to 1 out of every 8 adults. Put another way, children are 50% more likely than adults to live in poverty. That’s bad news, because living in poverty makes it harder for children to succeed in school and grow up to be healthy, well-educated members of Wisconsin’s workforce.
3. Poverty is a problem all across the state, not just in Milwaukee. About 750,000 people lived in poverty in Wisconsin last year, and about one-quarter of those people lived in Milwaukee County. The other half-million people lived in poverty in communities across the state, from the rural northwest to the urban southeast.
4. Having a job isn’t always enough to lift someone out of poverty. Last year about 205,000 Wisconsin adults were in the labor force and working – yet they didn’t earn enough to raise themselves out of poverty. We can help support these workers by establishing new training opportunities, raising the minimum wage, and strengthening tax credits that encourage work.
5. We can take steps to tackle poverty in Wisconsin. Investments in education, health care, and affordable housing can help put people on the path to economic security. Supports that help struggling families make ends meet and put food on the table help Wisconsin families and lift the economy as a whole.