PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

And It’s Only Going To Get Worse

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on December 23, 2010

he Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that poverty levels are on the rise in Wisconsin. There are now 10 counties with a poverty level above 15%, as compared to 2000, when there were only two.

But that is not surprising when you look at what’s been going on lately. Companies like Mercury Marine, Harley Davidson and now Kohler are forcing their employees to take draconian cuts to their pay and/or benefits. They also make those jobs as unattractive as possible for new workers.

It’s not so much that these companies are struggling in this economy. After all, both Mercury Marine and Harley Davidson have both reported great profits and have given their CEOs and Boards of Directorssalaries and/or bonuses that would have kept an army working for years.
Also not surprising is that the highest levels of poverty are occurring among the minorities:

The new data also shows a higher prevalence of poverty among minorities in Wisconsin. The poverty rate was highest among blacks – with nearly 35% living in poverty, followed by American Indians (27%) and Hispanics (23%). Non-Hispanic whites reported the lowest rate among racial groups – 8.5%.

So what do we do? Well, the author of the report has a suggestion (emphasis mine):

“An increasing proportion of Wisconsin residents are facing economic hardship,” said the report’s author, Katherine Curtis, demographic specialist at UW Extension and an assistant professor at UW-Madison. “These numbers suggest that economic development, including living wages, health benefits, food security and housing affordability should be front and center in policy discussions.

Well, that should be a cinch for the incoming governor and state legislature…oh, wait…we are so screwed.

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