New Report Released Today: 2011 Report on Illinois Poverty Finds Poverty Worse in Illinois Today than During

the Recession
Poverty, worse in Illinois today than during the recession, grew from pre- to postrecession by 16 percent, according to the 2011 Report on Illinois Poverty released today. In fact, poverty is at its highest point in decades, and 1 in 3 Illinoisans are considered poor or low-income. The Social IMPACT Research Center's release dovetails with Human Rights Day, and underscores the economic deprivation and threats to dignity and well-being endured by those who live in poverty. In the report, IMPACT documents hardship across a variety of indicators including income, employment, health, housing, and assets. Together these indicators document the conditions faced by struggling families across Illinois. The report includes the following key findings: At least 1 in 10 people live in poverty in 85 of Illinois’ 102 counties. Median household income has continued the disturbing trend of the past decade. Currently at $52,972, it has declined 3.4 percent from the recession and 6.9 percent from before the recession. Illinois must add 528,844 new jobs to fill its job gap (number of jobs lost during the recession and the number of jobs needed for new entrants to the workforce). Post-recession has seen no gains for struggling families. Poverty, unemployment, and rates of uninsurance are at the same levels or worse as they were during the recession, and incomes have dropped further. For example, unemployment in Illinois skyrocketed 82 percent during the recession, and since then unemployment has held steady around 10 percent. Without government assistance, nearly twice as many people would have experienced poverty across the nation. Unfortunately, not all of Illinois’ safety net assistance programs responded quickly and effectively to growing hardship. And even the most responsive programs have not grown commensurate with need. As an example, there was essentially no increase in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families caseload from the year before the recession to the recession period. Since the recession ended, however, the caseload has grown 64 percent to 46,694 families. “Personal, social, and economic costs of low family incomes are far too great, compromising Illinois’ economic strength, human capital, and future well-being,” said Sid Mohn, President of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights. “State policies and investments need to support an economy that works for everyone, promote work that pays a living wage, ensure that all have access to a quality education, and that families are able to access adequate income supports to help make ends meet.”

Complementing the report, IMPACT has made it easier to access data, tailored by geography and select indicators, through a user-friendly interactive data portal (launching mid-December). County-level data, available through the website, allows advocates and decision makers to see how poverty and hardship is impacting different populations and different areas of the state. Coupled with personal and program experiences, these data can tell a powerful story about the economic realities Illinoisans are facing in order to help move decision makers on key social and economic issues.

A Holiday Message from IMPACT
Thank you for your continued interest in our work to provide dynamic research and analysis on today's most pressing social issues and solutions to inform and equip those working toward a just global society. For over 20 years, advocates, individuals, and decision makers have relied on the Social IMPACT Research Center for easily-digestible data and analysis to paint a more comprehensive picture of poverty and point toward strategies with powerful anti-poverty effects. If you have not yet had a chance to donate, click here to make a year-end contribution. We are nearing the end of one of the rockiest years for many Illinoisans in decades. In a time of such great need and widespread hardship, more than ever, policies and investments need to support and promote an economy that offers opportunity for an adequate standard of living for everyone. Your support is critical to sustaining our work in the coming year and moving forward economic solutions that work for all Illinoisans. From all of us on the IMPACT team, happy holidays!

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