Poverty Spikes In Wisconsin
February 26, 2016

Governing is reporting the depressing news that West Virginia became the 26th state to pass the so-called Right to Work law. It also reports that Republican gubernatorial candidates are stumping on the promise to also attack the workers in their respective states.

Let Wisconsin serve as a warning to these states on the real effects of these Wage Theft laws.

Five years ago, Scott Walker and the other Republican meatpuppets passed Act 10, which is nothing more than RTW for public sector workers. Last year, they attacked the private sector by passing RTW for them as well. Each time, they promised that it would bring more high paying jobs to the state and Wisconsin would be the land of plenty.

So how's that working out?

Not so well, actually:

Poverty in Wisconsin hit its highest level in 30 years during the five-year period ending in 2014, even as the nation's economy was recovering from the Great Recession, according to a trend analysis of U.S. census data just released by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.

The number of Wisconsin residents living in poverty averaged 13% across that post-recession time frame — the highest since 1984, according to the analysis by UW-Madison's Applied Population Laboratory. In 1984, the poverty rate peaked at 15.5% as the nation was recovering from a double-dip recession.

The UW-Madison analysis dovetails with an unrelated study that identified pockets of the country faring worse as the economic recovery gains some traction, released Thursday by a national nonprofit research group in Washington, D.C.

That study, by the Economic Innovation Group, found the gap between the richest and poorest American communities widening, and ranked Milwaukee the seventh most distressed city in America, with 52% of the population considered economically distressed.

Poverty increased more dramatically across Wisconsin than in many other states, though 46 of the 50 states saw a significant increase in total population living in poverty between the five-year periods ending in 2009 and 2014, according to the UW-Madison analysis.


Using the five-year measure, poverty went up in both urban and rural parts of Wisconsin. It went up at every level of educational achievement, and across the employment spectrum.

Perhaps most significant, the poverty gap between blacks and whites grew here as the average gap was flat across the nation. The state's child poverty rate also went up significantly, fueling concerns about the future for many of the state's youngest residents.

"There is some good evidence that living in poverty and experiencing issues like food and housing insecurity can cause changes in the brain that can lead to behavioral issues and low performance in school, as well as chronic disease later in life," said Malia Jones, an assistant scientist and social epidemiologist at UW-Madison's Applied Population Laboratory.

It's no coincidence that two-thirds of students who cannot read above a fourth-grade level end up either in prison or on welfare, several literacy studies have shown.

So now we can see why RTW is so popular with Republicans.

If people are so busy trying to survive because of their diminished income, they don't have time to be politically involved. Furthermore, if people aren't getting a decent education, it's easier to con them into continuing to vote for Republicans. And the ability to stick it to those uppity blacks is just the cherry on top.

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