Poverty in Wisconsin hit its highest level in 30 years between 2010 and 2014. 738,000 people were living in poverty–a 20% increase from the previous five year period.

Inequality is worse now than in 1984. Poverty increased more dramatically in Wisconsin than many other states and is increasing at a faster rate.

239,000 (or one in five) children are living in poverty. This is 18.5% of Wisconsin’s children—a dramatic increase of 50,000 more children from the period of 2005-2009.

Research shows that brain development in children is affected by poverty due to factors such as food and housing insecurities. Poverty greatly impacts educational opportunities and outcomes.

Poverty for the working poor increased from 6 % to 7% in that five year period. Even more startling was the rise in poverty for adults working full time–from 2% to 4%.

Poverty for adults rose for those without a high school diploma as well as adults with some college or a college degree. Minorities fared even worse. This analysis was done by UW-Madison’s Applied Population Laboratory. The information is the most recent that I could find.

Wisconsin’s rankings are having a huge impact on the poverty level.

Wisconsin ranked 38th in private sector job growth in 2015. Wisconsin has continually trailed the nation in job creation since July 2011. Wisconsin trails five of the six other Midwestern states.

A report issued in June of 2015 ranked Wisconsin 50th (dead last) in new business start-ups.

Wisconsin lost over 11,000 jobs in 2015 with a net loss of 5000 jobs in the month of December alone. The Worknet website listed about 112 companies that issued mass layoff notices to employees or were closed.

Middle class families in Wisconsin saw a decline in median income of 14.7% between the years 2000 and 2013 placing Wisconsin 50th–the worst in the nation. Wages did rise for some employees in 2015.

Between the years 2008 and 2012, Wisconsin lost an average of 14,000 college graduates per year.

Roads are the third worst in the nation due to recent budget costs. Motorists and every industry in Wisconsin are affected.

What are some solutions?

1. Invest in our children by increasing Fair Funding to our public schools. 71 school districts have referendums on the April 5th ballot. The Solon Springs schools will probably close if their referendum doesn’t pass. Students will be bused to two or three other school districts. Sadly, the two proposed referendums in February in Hayward didn’t pass.

2. Address the high costs of child care. My daughter says that sending her two children to daycare is the same as sending them to college. Set standards to assure all child care is of the highest quality. Our children are the hope for the future and deserve the very best.

3. Invest in our outstanding UW-System. Professors are leaving the state. The UW System has reduced staff because of the $125 million cut to its budget.

4. Allow college graduates to refinance their student loans.

5. Offer job training and transitional jobs.

6. Raise the minimum wage.

7. Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit.

8. Look for ways to distribute transportation funds to fix and maintain roads.