Poverty fell and median household income grew last year in Illinois, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. While experts were encouraged by the improvement, they cautioned that things are far from rosy in the Prairie State.
Minority working families are about twice as likely to be low-income than white working families at both the national level and in Illinois.
That's one of the key findings of a new report by the Working Poor Families Project, a national initiative focused on strengthening state-level policies to help working families attain economic security.
Illinois is home to over 400,000 low-income working families, representing 30 percent of all working families in the state, according to the report. Low-income working families are defined as those with incomes below 200 percent of the official poverty level.
Forty-six percent of all minority working families in Illinois were low-income in 2013, compared with 20 percent of white, non-Hispanic working families.
America's poverty rate declined from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent last year, marking the first statistically significant decrease since 2006, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
An increase in the number of year-round, full-time workers helped lower the overall poverty rate, Census Bureau officials said. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of men and women working full time, year-round with earnings increased by 1.8 million and 1.0 million, respectively, the figures showed. In 2013, a total of 60.8 million men and 45.1 million worked full-time.
The child poverty rate also dropped significantly from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013, while the share of uninsured Americans also fell slightly during the same time.
Despite bright spots in the new Census reports on income, poverty and health insurance, Robert Greenstein with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the economy strengthened too slowly in 2013 "to improve the living standards of many middle- and low-income Americans."
The national “partisan arms race” that comes with the redistricting process is a leading obstacle for those who want to see states reform the way electoral district boundaries are drawn, said panelists at a redistricting reform discussion at the University of Chicago. Progress Illinois provides some of the highlights from the panel discussion.
Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that Illinois' poverty rate continued to hover near 15 percent last year.
to the new American Community Survey data, 14.7 percent Illinoisans, or
1.85 million people, were living in poverty in 2012. That's not much of
a statistical change from 2011, when 15 percent of people, or 1.88
million, were in poverty.
At the national level, the poverty rate also remained fixed last year at 15 percent, impacting some 46.5 million Americans.
nationally and in Illinois, more people were working over the course of
the year, and that didn't translate into decreased poverty," said Amy
Terpstra, associate director of the Heartland Alliance's Social
IMPACT Research Center.
Illinois’ redistricting process provides that the average resident doesn’t have fair electoral representation, according to supporters of a newly-formed campaign to change the way the state’s political lines are drawn. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the state's remapping process.
Tonya Yarbrough, a security officer at the Chicago Stock Exchange at
440 South LaSalle St., wakes up at 5 a.m. every day to commute on the
Green Line from Englewood to be at work by 7 a.m. in downtown Chicago.
She says she feels safer at work than she does at home.
“If I were
paid a little bit more maybe I’d be able to make a better life for
myself and my family,” she said. “Maybe I could move to a better neighborhood.”
Yarbrough, 42, a born-and-raised Chicagoan and security officer of nine years, makes $12.65 an hour.