IMPACT analyzed the most recent indicators from the U.S. Census Bureau and other key sources tocreate the report, which
provides a primer on the “
who, where, why, and what
of poverty in Illinois.
Who is poor in Illinois?
Nearly 1.9 million Illinoisans (15.0 percent) live in poverty. A family of four is poor if its annual income isbelow $23,021.Of the 1.9 million Illinoisans experiencing poverty:
55 percent are female
35 percent are children
46 percent are minorities
84 percent are native born
14 percent have a disability
46 percent are in extreme poverty, with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level Another 2.2 million Illinoisans (17.9 percent) are living close enough to the poverty line (with incomesbetween 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level) that they could easily fall below it at any time.Together these two groups of Illinoisans comprise
Where do they live?
Poverty is not restricted by geography. Large cities, suburbs, and small rural areas across Illinois areaffected:
of Illinois’s 102
counties have poverty rates between 15 and 20 percent.
Nine counties have poverty rates over 20 percent.
In Chicago, 9 out of 77 neighborhoods have poverty rates of 35 percent or greater.
Even in the six suburban counties around Chicago, generally thought to be more affluent, atleast 20 percent of residents are poor or near it.To accompany the report, IMPACT established a County Well-Being Index that tracks and scores each
change in poverty, unemployment, teen births, and high school graduations. This year, 39out of 102 counties are on either the Poverty Watch or Poverty Warning Lists. You can find out if your county is on the list and access other county-level data at www.ilpovertyreport.org.
Why does poverty exist?
Economic forces, such as unemployment, declining wage levels, and growing inequality, have a directimpact on poverty. When combined with other hardships like inadequate education, high rent burden,poor health, and lack of access to financial asset-building opportunities, these economic forces create aclimate ripe for poverty growth. For example:
Every one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate causes a 0.5 percentagepoint increase in the poverty rate. Conversely, a 10 percent increase in median wage lowersthe poverty rate by 1.5 percentage points.
The more education a person has, the more likely he or she will avoid economic hardship.Yet the value of a high school education has eroded: workers with a high school diploma areearning 7 percent less now than they did 40 years ago (when adjusted for inflation), andworkers without a high school diploma are earning 21 percent less now they did 40 yearsago.
In Illinois, there are only 59 available affordable rental units for every 100 low-income renter households.
Medical problems caused 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies filed in the United States in2007; three quarters of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illnesses.
One in four Illinois households does not have enough money saved to protect it from asudden drop in income.