Heartland Alliance releases poverty report, data places Macoupin County on warning list for poverty

Heartland Alliance releases poverty report, data places Macoupin

By JORDAN GRUCZA

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Macoupin County has been placed, along with 12 other Illinois counties, on a warning list for poverty, with many other counties on a watch list. This data comes from Social IMPACT Research Center, a program of Heartland Alliance. They report that, as of 2017 statistics, “more than half of Illinois counties are facing threats to social and economic well-being.”

On Monday, Katie Buitrago, research director for Heartland Alliance, hosted a webinar describing the eight-person organization as the second-largest non-profit in Chicago. According to Buitrago, the organization helps non-profits, foundations and governments to help craft real-world solutions to poverty, all in the name of promoting a more just global society.

Heartland Alliance follows a County Well-Being Index which follows counties that are experiencing negative trends based on the key indicators of poverty, teen births, unemployment and high school graduation.

The counties are evaluated using a point system, with a higher number of points indicating a worse score. A county receives a point if its rate is worse than the state average or if it has worsened since the previous year, for a total of eight possible points.

As of 2017, the data shows that the poverty rate in Macoupin County is 13.8 percent, up 0.5 points from the previous year. The state of Illinois has a total poverty rate of 12.5 percent. The number of people in poverty was 6,152. This is 190 more people than those reported the previous year.

Macoupin’s child poverty rate of 2017 is listed at 20.5 percent, considerably higher than the 17 percent reported for the entire state of Illinois.

The mean income deficit, or the average amount of poor families’ incomes that falls below the poverty line, was reported at $9,911, on par with the state of Illinois and Macoupin’s neighboring counties.

Severely rent-burdened households in Macoupin, which Buitrago explained as households whose incomes devote more than 30 percent to rent, came in at 29 percent.

Fair Market Rents are used to determine the amounts for rental vouchers for government assistance housing programs such as Section 8. The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom house as of 2018 is $670. Weekly work hours necessary to afford a two-bedroom house at Fair Market Rent as of 2018 is 62 hours. The wages needed to such household is $12.88 an hour. In comparison, the estimate of mean renter hourly wage in Macoupin is $7.34 an hour.

The high school graduation rate of Macoupin County for the 2017-18 academic year is at 87 percent, down 3.1 points from the previous year. The high school graduation rate for low-income students is 80 percent.

The unemployment rate as of 2018 is 4.9 percent, up 0.1 points from the previous year.

Teen births as of 2017, which consist of live births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19, was reported at 77.8 per thousand women ages 15 to 19, a change of 34.3 per thousand more than the previous year.

“The rise in the number of counties on the Poverty Watch and Warning lists only confirms what we at Heartland Alliance see every day,” Buitrago said. “Illinois communities need meaningful investments, economic opportunity, and policies that work to bring equity to all communities. The data we released can help people working to make change in their communities understand the conditions on the ground and make better decisions about how to move the needle on poverty.”