2010 Report on Illinois Poverty
People who had the least to start with before the recession were hit first, hit hardest, and will regain lost ground slowest, according to the 2010 Report on Illinois Poverty. Workers in the lowest income group in Illinois had a 1930’s-like unemployment rate of 27.0 percent in the 4th quarter of 2009 while Illinois’ overall unemployment rate was 10.2percent.
More than 1.5 million Illinoisans, 12.2 percent of the state’s population, were living in poverty in 2008. An additional 16.0 percent—more than 2 million people—were on shaky financial ground with incomes between the poverty line and twice the poverty line. The magnitude of these poverty data, based on information from 2008, do not even fully capture the effects of the recession.
Signs of increasing poverty are seen throughout the state. The report found that poverty worsened in many areas of the state even before the worst of the recent economic crisis, increasing in 63 of Illinois’ 102 counties. A total of 29 counties were placed on the report’s Poverty Warning List, an indication that poverty trends in these counties are the most alarming in Illinois. Another 42 counties appeared on the Poverty Watch List, which accounts for counties where poverty indicators need to be monitored closely.
Male, minority, younger, and less educated workers have been hit hardest by unemployment in this recession. In 2009:
- The unemployment rate for men was 11.1 percent compared to women’s unemployment rate of 8.7percent.
- The unemployment rate for black workers was 17.1percent compared to 9.0percent for white workers.
- Newer entrants to the workforce (ages 20 to 24) had an unemployment rate of 16.3percent compared to rates of 9.7percent and below for older workers.
- Workers with less than a high school diploma are 4 times more likely to be unemployed than workers with a bachelor’s degree.
Illinoisans have experienced a tremendous erosion of wealth as a result of the recession:
- Only 9 states had a greater proportion of homes that received a foreclosure filing in March 2010 than Illinois, in which 1 out of every 371 homes received a foreclosure filing.
- 1 out every 7 Illinois households has zero or negative net worth.
- Illinoisans’ average debt from all sources is over $11,300.
- The increase in personal bankruptcy filings from 2006-2009 in Chicago region counties has been exponential: Cook +163 percent, DuPage +249 percent, Kane +266 percent, Lake +190 percent, McHenry +240 percent, and Will +191 percent.
Extreme poverty has worsened, with those in extreme poverty being subject to great hardship:
- 680,000 Illinoisans lived in extreme poverty in 2008 on an annual income of less than half of the poverty line (less than $11,000 a year for a family of four) – a considerable increase from 2000 when 619,240 Illinoisans lived in extreme poverty.
- Being in extreme poverty greatly increases a person’s likelihood of being uninsured: 49.1percent of adults ages 18-64 years old in extreme poverty are uninsured, versus 16.4percent for those not in extreme overty.
- Low-income people with disabilities face severe gaps between disability payment amounts, averaging $674 a month in Illinois, and average monthly rents for a 1-bedroom at $788 and even studio apartments at $690.
At this moment of unprecedented need in modern times, strong and responsive public benefits and human services are crucial to keeping families afloat until recovery reaches main street. Yet years of disinvestment in Illinois’ safety net, combined with the effects of the recession and an antiquated state revenue system, have resulted in an erosion of human services across the state.
“Despite the continued challenges facing the economy, greater hardship, increased poverty and homelessness, and weakening financial security for the coming years are not inevitable,” said Sid Mohn, President of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs &
Human Rights. “State policymakers can create economic stability and promote future prosperity by enacting a responsible budget that includes new revenue and protects vital health and human services from catastrophic cuts, ensuring that Illinois families are protected from deepening hardship.”
For more information, visit www.heartlandalliance.org/povertyreport.