Poverty Rate in Wisconsin Reaches a 30-Year High

Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 19:43:17-05

The poverty rate in Wisconsin just hit a 30 year high according to a University of Wisconsin Madison study. While the most recent data was collected in 2014 it spells, disturbing, for people who work to combat the growing trend.

To be above the poverty line a family has to bring in about 17-thousand dollars every year. According to that study, nearly 3 quarters of a million people here in Wisconsin are not making that cut.

Poverty is the worst it's been in 30 years in Wisconsin and in the last 5 years no county in the state saw that trend go down significantly. That’s a significant concern for the Brown County United Way.

"It's not surprising. I just hope we don't become so casual about it that we accept it," says Greg Maass the CEO of Brown Counties United Way.

Some say the problem is the jobs aren't as obtainable as many lead us all to believe and on top of that the pay isn’t keeping up with the times.

"The median income in our area is similar to what it was 10 years ago," adds Maass.

According to a 5 year study from the University of Wisconsin Madison it doesn't matter if you have a high school diploma, some college education, or a bachelor’s degree from a university because poverty rates increased across the board for all of those educational achievements.

"Many college students come out of college able to do nothing with their major with their qualifications," says Maggie McConnaha a sophomore at St. Norbert College.

McConnaha has studied Brown county's poverty issues and wrote an essay about it with a classmate last semester.

"It says something horrible about the priorities of our country," adds McConnaha.

And while across the state the trend isn't getting better. Many hope we don't give up on the problem.

Race also plays a factor in the poverty numbers. 39 percent of black people, 28 percent of Latinos and just 11 percent of whites are below the poverty line in Wisconsin according to the study.