Reported Family Poverty in Whitewater Increased Over the Last Decade

Over the last ten years, while Wisconsin and America recovered from the Great Recession, in Whitewater poverty among families with children actually increased.

The Great Recession – deep and painful for many, lasted from December 2007 to June 2009.

Afterward, most parts of America saw recovery, sometimes slow, sometimes rapid, but recovery by either definition.  That’s why for most Wisconsinites and most Americans, the new U.S. Census data released last Thursday show reductions in their communities’ levels of poverty.  See Census: Wisconsin incomes up, poverty down.  That makes sense – the further in time from the recession, the greater the time for recovery.

The five year period from 2013 to 2017 should look better for families’ prospects than the five year period from 2008-2012 (part of which was during the Great Recession).

For Whitewater, however, that’s not true – poverty among families with related children shows an increase:

2008-12 2013-17
All families 13.1% 16.1%
     With related children under 18 16.4% 26.6%
     With related children under 5 18.5% 28.2%

2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates and 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates Poverty Status in the last twelve months (as measured over the period).

A few remarks:

 Students.  Although there has been an increase in the student population over the period from 2008 to 2017, these data do not reflect that increase – these are families and families with related children under eighteen (or even five years of age) within Whitewater.

 Data.  These data are from the same methods applied to other communities; most of those communities show improvements against poverty, but rural communities in our area are notably weaker.  Although smaller communities will have greater margins of error in data collection, cities of a similar size beyond our area have lower family poverty levels than Whitewater using the same data collection methods. (The same federal bureau, the United States Census Bureau, is reporting all these results.)

 Situations.  I don’t write from personal deprivation or want; by any measure, I’ve been fortunate and privileged.

More significantly, however one looks at this data, they reveal to us (as our own eyes should, too) that we live in a city with many struggling neighbors.

One should define struggling for it means: hunger, threadbare garments, and dilapidated homes (sometimes unheated or unelectrified).

Boosterism and babbittry (and endless press releases of supposed success through big-ticket projects and junk capital catalyst programs) in Whitewater have been worse than false – they have been morally and ethically perverse diversions from actual needs.

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