WPM county-/multicounty-level poverty rates vary in relation to the overall state rate of 10.8 percent in 2016.

The 10th annual Wisconsin Poverty Report released June 8 found the rate increased to 10.8 percent in 2016, compared to 9.7 percent in 2015.

The annual study was led by Timothy Smeeding, a professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs and affiliate and former director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in collaboration with IRP programmer analyst Katherine Thornton.

They found poverty rates rose for children and elders as well using a tool called the Wisconsin Poverty Measure.

WPM Child poverty increased by 2 percentage points to 12 percent, while the official poverty rate for children rose from 15.4 to 16.9 percent. 

WPM elderly poverty rose from 7.8 to 9 percent between 2015 and 2016. The official poverty rate for elders grew from 6.2 to 6.6 percent.

As explained in the report, the WPM child poverty rate is almost 5 percentage points lower than the official child poverty rate because the WPM counts as income family resources from tax credits and noncash benefits — such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP food assistance, the child tax credit and earned income tax credit.

WPM elderly poverty is about 36 percent higher than the official rate. This difference results mostly from the WPM's inclusion of out-of-pocket medical costs, which are not included in the official poverty rate.

Brad Paul, executive director of the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association, said in a news release that the study “reveals the rugged persistence of poverty in our state. It is particularly concerning to see increases among children and the elderly and these findings point to both the need for comprehensive public policy solutions and a broad commitment from Wisconsinites to fight poverty. No family or individual should struggle to meet their basic needs when our collective wealth is so great.”


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