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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Illinois Poverty Numbers Are Lower, But Still Higher Than National Average

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

New numbers show that the poverty rate in Illinois is still worse than the national average.  

The poverty rate is lower, both nationally and in Illinois, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers for 2016. But there’s a caveat.

“Unfortunately, we are still above where we were pre-recession,” said Amy Rynell, head of the research unit of the Heartland Alliance that studies poverty. “While, as a nation, we have caught up with where we were pre-recession, as a state, we have not.”

For 2016, the poverty rate in Illinois is 13 percent -- which exceeds the national rate of 12.7 percent.

Rynell says that, while the number of those living in poverty is on the decline, many are still struggling to get by. 

“They’re living on incomes where it’s not possible – remotely – to afford rent, let alone putting enough food on the table,” she said.

Rynell says she believes part of the reason the Illinois poverty numbers are not improving at the same pace as the rest of the country is because of the state budget crisis.