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Fox Cities LIFE Study: Single moms experience ten times the poverty rate of couples

Posted on Jul 23, 2020, by

The poverty rate for single women raising children was more than ten times higher than the rate for married couples with children across Fox Cities counties from 2014 to 2018, according to data updated in the Fox Cities LIFE Study, funded by your Community Foundation and United Way Fox Cities.

Poverty rates in Wisconsin are slightly lower than the United States average, and rates in the Fox Cities region are lower still. In Calumet County, for example, the 2018 poverty rate was approximately one-third of the U.S. average. The U.S. 2018 poverty threshold for a family of four was an annual income of $25,100 or lower compared to $23,850 or lower in 2014.

From 2012-2014 there was a significant increase in Wisconsin Works (W-2) program participants, coinciding with an increase in the percentage of the population receiving food stamps from 2006-2014. When also considering slow growth in household income during that period along with an increase in median gross rent in the Fox Cities’ counties, this suggests an increase in working poor. These residents may be marginally above the poverty threshold but are susceptible to food insecurity​, while other major expenses, such as health care or vehicle repairs, may put them in more serious financial jeopardy. This may be even more of an issue in Winnebago County, where the percentage of the population with low access to food is one-third higher than the U.S. average and has the highest overall poverty rate of the three counties.

The Fox Cities LIFE Study website is updated on an ongoing basis, when new data is available, which may or may not include the current COVID-19 time period. The 2019 information on poverty is part of 45 new or updated charts within the Fox Cities LIFE Study’s categories of basic needs, health, and safety. Interactive charts are now available on the Fox Cities LIFE Study website, with a summary of the new information on the “What’s New” page.

July 2020 Basic Needs Updates:

Note: Sources for the Basic Needs updates include U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates and Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and Wisconsin Children in Out-of-Home Care Annual Report.

About the Fox Cities LIFE Study:

The Leading Indicators for Excellence (LIFE) Study provides a data-focused overview of the quality of life in the Fox Cities area. The LIFE Study began in 2001 and offers a look at how our community is doing. It provides insights, trends and data to gauge the quality of life in health and human services issues in the Fox Cities. The data presented should be a catalyst for community conversation about how we all can bring about important change, improve the quality of life, and put effort to the greatest needs in our community. The study also is benchmarked against select counties, Wisconsin and the nation, with trending information.

The official research partner for the LIFE Study is The Polis Center of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). They specialize in working with their partners to define, measure, and actively improve community health, well-being, and resiliency. The center is responsible for data collection, evaluation, and visualizing the data for this website.


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