By Tim Kowols
While the unemployment rate in Wisconsin is reaching historic lows, poverty in the state continues to climb. According to the 10th annual Wisconsin Poverty Report, the state’s rate climbed to 10.8 percent in 2016 from 9.7 percent the previous year. Milwaukee has the largest impact on the numbers with a poverty rate of 17.5 percent in 2016, an increase of 1.2 percent over 2015. Wayne Kudick worked in Milwaukee as a social services staff member and is currently a part of an interfaith poverty study in northern Door County. He fears Wisconsin’s middle class is disappearing as wages fail to keep up with the cost of living.
Door County and Kewaunee County’s poverty rates come in at less than the state average according to the study. Kudick says the availability of affordable housing and the seasonality of Door County’s economy are the two major focuses of his group’s own look at poverty in the area. You can read UW-Madison’s report on poverty online with this story.