Who is poor in Wisconsin?
To answer the question “Who is poor in Wisconsin?” one must consider the source of estimates, especially what is counted as income and expenses in a given calculation. The U.S. Census Bureau reports poverty data from several household surveys and programs, each of which uses different sources. Additionally, to provide a broader view of poverty and growing need in Wisconsin, IRP researchers have created a Wisconsin-specific poverty measure (see “IRP’s Wisconsin Poverty Report” below).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.4 percent of Wisconsin residents, on average, were poor in 2009 (see Table 1). Table 1 gives model-based estimates of poverty and median income figures from the 2009 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) for Wisconsin counties. SAIPE estimates combine data from administrative records, population estimates done between decennial censuses, and the decennial census with direct estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). Using single-year data, Wisconsin’s poverty rate rose from 10.5 percent in 2008 to 12.4 percent in 2009. See the FAQ #3 “Who is Poor,” Table 1, for state-level poverty estimates using three-year averages, which are considered more reliable than single-year rates, owing to small sample sizes. The three-year average poverty rate for Wisconsin from 2007 through 2009 is 10.5 percent. Figure 1 depicts five-year total poverty rates for Wisconsin counties using ACS data.
Sources of many other Wisconsin statistics are listed in the"Wisconsin Poverty" section of the Research pages and in the “Wisconsin” section of the FAQ on “Finding online demographic and socioeconomic data for states, counties, cities, and other smaller units of government in Midwestern states.”
As part of IRP’s longstanding collaboration with state government to identify and address issues associated with family well-being and economic security in the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, IRP researchers work in partnership with state officials to provide research knowledge that informs policy and helps set antipoverty priorities within Wisconsin borders.
One such Wisconsin Idea effort at IRP is the Wisconsin Poverty Project, led by IRP Director Tim Smeeding along with IRP researchers and programmers as well as Julia Isaacs, Child and Family Policy Fellow at Brookings Institution and IRP Visiting Scholar. IRP has prepared three reports on poverty in Wisconsin using their evolving Wisconsin Poverty Measure, which takes a broader view of resources and counts expenses not included in the official, federal poverty measure.
On May 4, 2011, IRP released the third Wisconsin Poverty Report: Were Antipoverty Programs Effective in 2009? Using their new Wisconsin Poverty Measure, which takes a broader view of needs and resources than the official poverty measure, researchers examined need in 2009 and changes in economic security from 2008 to 2009.
“Our findings are dramatic: Despite the reduction in employment and earnings in 2009, our Wisconsin Poverty Measure reveals that antipoverty programs kept child poverty steady in our state between 2008 and 2009. Expanded tax credits and food assistance benefits, which we include but the official measure does not, offset a drop in family earnings and cash income in 2009 and kept scores of Wisconsin children out of poverty,” says Tim Smeeding, lead Wisconsin Poverty Project researcher, director of IRP, and La Follette School of Public Affairs faculty member.
Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) Analysis
The State of Working Wisconsin, released biennially by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, provides a statistical portrait of work and well-being in the state that includes poverty statistics. The most recent publication in this series is a 2010 update.
Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data
See also the Annie E. Casey Foundation Web site, which provides access to interactive tables and rankings, by state and county, using decennial census data, as well as access to the raw data for all Wisconsin counties, as part of its Kids Count initiative.
Source: Map provided by Applied Population Laboratory, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, U.S. Census Bureau, 2005–2009 American Community Surveys.