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Poverty Dip Not Seen In Illinois But It Happens Nationally

Heartland Alliance Social Impact Research Center

Though the U.S. poverty rate has dropped to the pre-recession level, Illinois has not yet reached that target.

Newly released figures from the U.S. Census put the national poverty rate in 2018 at 11.8 percent, which shows a gradual decline from the year prior. Illinois’ rate of 12.1 percent about equals  the pre-recession number. That’s according to the Heartland Alliance Social Impact Research Center, which crunches the numbers.

Katie Buitrago is director of research at the center. She says it is likely Illinois’  budget crisis played a role in numbers stagnating. 

“So that was many years Illinois was not investing in moving people out of poverty as it should and you can see that in the sort of slower recovery from the recession, and that’s concerning…when economists are predicting another recession,’’ Buitrago said.

One-and-a-half million people are living in poverty in Illinois –  more than 12 percent of the population.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ overall uninsured rate didn’t budge from 2017 to 2018, but newly released numbers show it climbed among some portions of the population.   

Buitrago says Medicaid coverage ended for over 100,000 non-seniors. A smaller drop in the insured rate  occurred for those with private  coverage.

“There’s just been a lot of attacks from the administration on the Affordable Care Act .And you can see the effect of those attacks on the uninsured rate,’’ she said. “They repealed the individual mandate, they’re gutting enrollment assistance programs and there’s  been an expansion of low-quality, short-term health plans.”

Buitrago says anti-immigrant policies have also contributed to the loss of insurance coverage.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and covering the equity beat. Maureen joined the Illinois Issues in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
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