About half of Illinois counties are on poverty watch or warning lists released Monday by an anti-poverty organization, the Heartland Alliance.
The number of counties with those poor ratings increased from 30 last year to 52 this year.
The ratings cover areas including unemployment, teen births and high school graduation rates. The counties on the watch or warning lists are either higher than the state average in those topics or have seen these categories get worse over time.
Katie Buitrago is director of research at Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center.
“At the local level, leadership really needs to look at what are causing these issues — a lot of them have to do with changes in the high school graduation rate and the teen birth rates — and take corrective action to really invest in their communities and turn the situation around.”
While dozens of counties are on the watch list, five counties made the more dire warning list. Those are Calhoun, Mason, Morgan, Stephenson and Wayne. The county with the best rating was Adams — followed by Clark, Christian, Jasper, Macoupin, Richland and Scott.