Report shows high cost of being poor in Illinois

Despite recent U.S. Census Bureau data showing reductions in the poverty rate and increases in household median income, 1.7 million Illinois residents still face triple jeopardy in today’s economy.

Not only do they live below the poverty line, they also face high costs in areas such as rent, food, child care and predatory lending, and continue to disproportionately shoulder the heavy burden of the Illinois state budget crisis.

Those are the findings of The High Cost of Being Poor in Illinois, a new report released today by a broad coalition of groups including the Chicago Jobs Council, Heartland Alliance, Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, Illinois Hunger Coalition, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and the Coalition on Human Needs. Among the report’s highlights:

  • 59 percent of Illinois’ households with annual incomes below $20,000 spend more than half of their income on rent alone
  • Child care accounts for another exorbitant expense. The average cost in Illinois for an infant in a child care center is nearly $13,000 a year; for an infant and a four-year-old, it’s more than $22,500. A family at the poverty line with an infant and toddler in child care would have to spend 93 percent of its income on child care, if paying the state average cost. Without a subsidy, low-income families have no choice but to make cheaper and often less reliable arrangements.
  • Illinois was one of only eight states where income inequality grew between 2014 and 2015.