MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) -- A new county-level analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows many people who live in Eau Claire County haven't fully recovered from the recession.
The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families says the average income remains less than its pre-recession level. Poverty levels are still relatively high. The data shows the child povery rate in 2012 was a little more than 18.5%, which is quite a bit higher than the 11.8% rate in 2008. It also shows the average household income in Eau Claire County fell more than $2,000 during the last four years.
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MADISON, Wis. (WISCONSIN COUNCIL ON CHILDREN AND FAMILIES NEWS RELEASE) -- Many residents of Wisconsin and Eau Claire County have yet to fully rebound from the impact of the recession that began five years ago. Median income remains below its pre-recession level, and the poverty rate remains elevated. A new county-level analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) examines these and other measures of family economic well-being, including access to health insurance.
The Council’s analysis found that Eau Claire County has not yet overcome the adverse effects of the recession. For example:
-The 2012 child poverty rate of 18.6% is well above the 11.8% rate in 2008.
-Median household income fell to $47,900 in Eau Claire County in 2012, compared to $50,200 in 2008 (adjusted for inflation).
WCCF Executive Director Ken Taylor said the sharp increase in poverty and the decline in income during the recession underscore the importance of increasing the number of family supporting jobs and improving pathways to employment. He stressed that until that happens, it is essential to maintain key supports for families. Some of his specific recommendations include: boosting the minimum wage, improving early education, and effectively implementing the new insurance options in the federal health care reform law.
Although there has been a gradual erosion of employer-sponsored health insurance since at least 2000, that trend accelerated during the recession. The WCCF analysis found that from 2008 to 2012, an estimated 210,000 Wisconsinites lost their private insurance coverage. In spite of that erosion, Wisconsin’s uninsured rate remained essentially the same, thanks to the ability of the BadgerCare program to pick up much of the slack.
The trend in Eau Claire County was similar. Although the share of Eau Claire County residents with private insurance dropped to 75.1% in 2012 from 77.1% in 2008, the number of uninsured county residents decreased by more than 500 people over that period, thanks to BadgerCare.
“BadgerCare Plus ensures that children can still get the checkups and preventive care they need to stay healthy and focus on learning,” Taylor said. “But changes in BadgerCare eligibility in 2014 will mean that many low-income parents who were eligible in the past will no longer be able to enroll in BadgerCare. That’s why it’s so critical that the state, local officials, and health care providers do all they can to help
WCCF-2 parents navigate the new health insurance marketplace being implemented as part of the federal health reform law.”
Jon Peacock, WCCF’s research director, said there would be about 287,000 fewer uninsured people in Wisconsin, including about 4,800 fewer in Eau Claire County, if our state achieves the 3.9% rate of Massachusetts, which adopted the “RomneyCare” legislation that was the model for the national health care reform law.
WCCF has prepared charts and fact sheets analyzing the data for 21 counties for which county-level data is available from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. They can be found on the Council’s website. You can get there by clicking on the link below.