Poverty rates in Wisconsin are slightly lower than the United States average, and rates in the Fox Cities region are lower still. In Calumet, the 2018 poverty rate was approximately one-third of the U.S. average. The 2018 poverty threshold for a family of four was an annual income of $25,100 or lower compared to $24,000 or lower in 2014. Rates of child poverty since 2014 have remained steady. From 2012-2014 there was a significant increase in Wisconsin Works (W-2) program participants(1), alongside an increase in the percentage of the population receiving food stamps from 2006-2014. When also considering slow growth in household income during that time period (Indicator 2.05) alongside an increase in median gross rent in the Fox Cities' counties, this suggests an increase in working poor. These residents may be marginally above the poverty threshold but are susceptible to food insecurity. This may be even more of an issue in Winnebago, where the percentage of the population with low food access is one-third higher than the U.S. average and has the highest overall poverty rate of the three counties.
There are about twice as many low-income households in the Fox Cities region as there are affordable rental units. Eight-in-ten rental units are affordable to low-income households, which equates to 38,000 affordable units in the region in 2016. There are 66,000 low-income households (with income of 80% or less of the median income in the region), according to the 2016 American Community Survey. This ratio is similar to Wisconsin and the U.S.
The Fox Cities have less of a rental affordability issue than Wisconsin or the U.S. overall. Despite increased rent costs in all counties, the share of renters that are burdened by housing costs higher than 30% of their income is steady or falling in these counties. That said, Winnebago County has the highest housing cost burden rate for renters (43%) in the region, even though it also has the cheapest rent.
The poverty rate for single women raising children was more than ten times higher than the rate for married couples with children across the Fox Cities counties from 2014 to 2018, and the poverty rate for single men raising children was four times higher than for married couples with children. The percentage of children receiving childcare subsidies fell between 2011 and 2018. At the same time, the cost of childcare for all three counties has risen substantially. There has been a decline in the total number of regulated childcare providers in the Fox Cities Region from 2015 to 2019. In Calumet and Outagamie Counties, there are about 5% fewer providers, while in Winnebago County there are 21% fewer providers. When YoungStar quality ratings were first established, Outagamie County was above average in terms of the share of providers rated 3 or better (42%). Since then, Winnebago and Calumet Counties have improved to 37% and 46% respectively. Calumet County has few regulated childcare facilities, so demand is very high compared to the number of seats available. In other counties, childcare demand is average compared to the state.
The number of seniors increased from 2010 to 2018 across the Fox Cities region, yet the poverty rate for seniors (2014-2018 average) decreased slightly from the previous period (2010-2014). The 2018 poverty threshold for seniors living alone is an annual income of just $12,043. This could mean that the aging population of the Fox Cities region has more financially secure retirement savings, or a greater proportion of seniors are still employed and generating income. A large share of seniors in a population is normally an indicator of a community with greater health care needs and of more people exiting the workforce and becoming economically dependent on the working age population. Seniors who live independently may experience loneliness and feel isolated and may also require assistance with performing activities of daily life. The workforce participation rate (Indicator 2.08) for adults age 18 to 64 decreased slightly in Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago from 2006-2009 to 2010-2014 alongside an increase in the actual number of employees and a drop in the unemployment rate.
(1) Wisconsin Works is available to parents of minor children whose family income is below 115% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)