Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wisconsin poverty level increases to 12 percent

The University of Wisconsin has released a new report on the state's poverty rates. The report claims that the global recession in increasing the number of people in poverty in the state. The percentage of Wisconsin citizens in poverty is up 1.8 percent to 12.6 percent of the state's total population.

From The Badger Herald, reporter Rachel Vesco breaks down the numbers.

The report — put together by the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty — hopes to influence state policies that will help citizens living in poverty while exposing the depth of poverty in the state.

Milwaukee County has the state’s highest poverty rate at 17.3 percent, but the rate varies greatly throughout the county. Ten counties in the northwestern part of Wisconsin tied for second with rates of 14.4 percent each, while Rock County rested in third with a rate of 12.8 percent.

Waukesha County has the state’s lowest poverty rate, 3.7 percent.

The report also found statewide enrollment of individuals in the Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program has escalated. Since 2007, enrollment in the program increased by 37 percent, rising in every county and demographic region of the state. In some counties, enrollment increased by more than 50 percent.

Timothy Smeeding, director of the IRP, said he was most surprised to see the large increase in citizens on SNAP over the past two years.

“I was surprised to see how fast people need food stamps. That was pretty amazing,” Smeeding said.

Smeeding said if he could, he would like to go back and evaluate the effect other state and federal policies have had on poverty, like the policies included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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