MADISON (WSAU) U-W Madison researchers said poverty in Wisconsin actually went down in the final year of the Great Recession – even though the Census Bureau said poverty went up. The difference is that the Census Bureau does not consider the government programs that poor people take advantage of, like Badger-Care and food stamps. When you add those in, the Wisconsin Poverty Project at the U-W says the state’s actual poverty rate fell in 2009-and-2010 from 11.1-percent to 10.3-percent.
The Census Bureau said Wisconsin’s poverty rate was 13-percent during that time – but that only considered cash income.
Tim Smeeding, who heads the U-W Institute for Research on Poverty, says his study showed that the safety net for poor people worked during the recession. He said the Badger State did a good job protecting folks at the bottom of the economic ladder – and it something Wisconsinites should be proud of.
The new report said only three counties had higher poverty rates than the state average – Milwaukee, Eau Claire, and Chippewa. Counties in southwest, southern, and eastern Wisconsin had lower than average poverty.
Smeeding said the federal-and-state earned income tax credits and the Food Share program were especially helpful to the poor. But the study’s authors noted that middle class Wisconsinites were hit hard by falling home values, and the losses of jobs-and-income.