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Study Shows 33 Percent Of Illinois Residents Living In Poverty

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 17, 2013 5:00PM

A third of all Illinois residents live in or near poverty, according to a new study by The Heartland Alliance. The report shows 33 percent of Illinoisans have experienced poverty, an increase of 25 percent since 2000 and the highest levels have been in decades. Factors like unemployment and the recession have had an impact on poverty levels, but longer term issues such as an increase of low wage jobs have also helped increase poverty levels. Amy Terpstra from the Heartland Alliance told WBEZ, "You can work full-time, year round and still fall below the poverty line."

The counties with the highest poverty levels on the list are Jackson and Alexander, with 33.7 and 33.1 percent levels of poverty, respectively. Cook and the collar counties have at least 14.6 percent of residents living in poverty. The study also shows that every suburb of Chicago also has a 20 percent or higher level of poverty.

In order to combat rising poverty levels, the Heartland Alliance recommends raising the minimum wage and expanding it to include domestic workers and those who rely primarily on tips. Pete Schaefer, president and CEO of the Northern Illinois Food Bank told The Republic “One of the big things is that people have jobs, but not jobs they can raise a family on.” In addition to higher wages, the report recommends the Illinois increases access to its college savings program, return homelessness prevention funding to previous levels and implement the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion program.