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Poverty, uninsured on the rise

Poverty is on the increase and income is on the decline, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau released Tuesday.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ─ the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. (See our interactive poverty map

Screen shot of health insurance coverage by state

Rural poverty presents unique challenges

By Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess – Brenda MacPeek’s husband used to earn decent money as a long-haul truck driver, making runs all the way out to Colorado.  

But last September, the couple lost their home in Aroma Park, near Kankakee, because they were both out of work. They relocated to a doublewide mobile home in Ludlow, a town of 371 in northeastern Champaign County.

Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess - Rhonda Moore, a Ludlow school board member, helped start a food pantry in the rural Champaign County town. Held the fourth Saturday of each month, the pantry has seen demand increase steadily since opening three years ago.

Champaign County income levels by township

This map shows the percentage of residents in each of Champaign County's 30 townships living below certain income levels. The figures for 2005 to 2009, taken from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, are estimates of the average number of residents living at each income level during the five-year period. The figures for 2000 are taken from the 2000 U.S. census. All income levels have been adjusted for inflation and are given in 2009 dollars.

Residents living in extreme poverty earn less than 50 percent of the federal poverty level. The working poor includes anyone who earns up to two times the poverty threshold.

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New report links reading and graduation rates

By Julie Wurth/The News-GazetteChildren's advocates have focused for several years on early learning -- preparing young children for kindergarten -- but a new report says what comes next is just as crucial.

 “Great at Eight,” the 2011 Illinois Kids Count report, notes that the state's third- and fourth-graders have made only modest improvements in reading since 2003, and wide disparities remain between students of different races and income levels.

 Why is that important? Children make a key transition in third and fourth grades, shifting from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” -- applying their newfound reading skills to more complex subjects.

Courtesy photo

State group releases plan to reduce poverty

By Fawn Clark/ For CU-CitizenAccess —The Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty has released Building a Pathway to Dignity and Work, a report with 42 legislative recommendations for cutting extreme poverty in Illinois in half by 2015.

About 760,000 people live in extreme poverty in Illinois, which is defined as a family that earns less than half of the poverty level.

CU-CitizenAccess/This report, released by the Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty, has 42 legislative recommendations for cutting extreme poverty in Illinois in half by 2015.

State commission to recommend solutions to decrease extreme poverty

By Fawn Clark/For CU-CitizenAccess — The Commission on the Elimination of Poverty will make final recommendations later this month on steps to decrease the rate of extreme poverty in Illinois by 50 percent over the next five years.

Commission members say they hope the next legislature will act on the recommendations by next spring.

Since its creation in 2008, the commission has been working toward a goal of eliminating extreme poverty, which is defined as a family that earns less than half of the poverty level.

CU-CitizenAccess/A woman is seen leaving empty tomb inc., taking with her the two free layette sets she picked up for her newborn twin grandchildren in January. Empty tomb inc. is a Christian organization and offers services to people in need of all income levels. A state commission will make final recommendations later this month to decrease the rate of extreme poverty after hosting public hearings statewide earlier this year.

University students get hands-on lesson on poverty

By Julie Wurth/The News-Gazette/URBANA — Nearly 1.7 million Illinoisans, or 13.3 percent of the state’s population, live in poverty.

In Champaign County, the number is far higher: 21.3 percent. Next door, in Vermilion County, nearly a quarter of the residents are considered poor, living on $24,000 or less for a family of four.

The News-Gazette/The United Way of Champaign County organized a poverty simulation for a 200-level social work class at the UI in Urbana, IL. Tuesday morning, September 28, 2010. Students learned how to manage on a low (or no) income, deal with transportation, rent, getting their kids to school, getting food stamps, etc.

Gap between rich and poor growing

By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess - The gap between Champaign County’s rich and poor has grown over the past three years, new data shows.

An analysis of new data released from the Census Bureau on Sept. 28 shows an increase of 28 percent for those county households earning $100,000 or more between 2006 and 2009 and a decrease of more than 10 percent in those county households earning between $45,000 and $99,000.

The percent of county households with an income below the poverty level increased by nearly 13 percent over 2006, according to the data.

Further, the percentage of Champaign County renters who pay more than 30 percent of their income to housing costs increased over 2006.

U.S. Census Bureau

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