- Associated Press - Sunday, May 28, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s poverty rate reached a nine-year low in 2015, according to a new study.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty study says the state’s poverty rate was 9.7 percent in 2015, down from 10.8 percent in 2014, Wisconsin Public Radio reported (https://bit.ly/2qWck7J ).

Researchers use the Wisconsin Poverty Measure, which was created nine years ago, to calculate the poverty rate.

Julie Kerksick with the Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee said the figures are encouraging.

“I see it as a positive sign,” Kerksick said. “It’s one that recognizes both the criticality of strong economy but also the importance of government support through tax credit for workers and parents and noncash benefits.”

Timothy Smeeding is a professor at UW-Madison and one of the authors of the report. He said job growth and a decreased reliance on government assistance programs helped reduce poverty. The study found the state added 70,000 jobs between 2014 and 2015.

The poverty level in La Crosse County is at 13 percent while Milwaukee County has a poverty rate of 16.3 percent.

Some parts of Milwaukee county are seeing vastly different poverty rates. The poverty rate in southern and western Milwaukee County is at about 10 percent while the central part of the city of Milwaukee has a rate of about 37 percent, according to the study.

“Essentially what we have is a classic segregated city story,” he said. “The middle of Milwaukee doing very badly with people in the same county, not living in the central city, doing fine and with people in the suburbs around it doing even better.”

The study also found that the poverty rate decreased for children and seniors. The rate fell to 10 percent for children and 7.8 percent for the elderly.


Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, https://www.wpr.org

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