UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
The U.S. government defines poverty in relative terms - goods and services that are commonly taken for granted by most people in the country but are unaffordable to those in poverty. In 2019, the poverty threshold in the U.S. for a family of four was an annual income of $25,750. Relative to other states, Minnesota and Wisconsin had lower proportions of their families living below the poverty level.
The graphs in this section of the State of the Valley website generally show increasing rates of poverty coming out of the Great Recession until the mid-2010s with slow improvements thereafter. The data are not yet available to show the impact of the economic downturn caused by the 2020-21 COVID-pandemic.
With one exception, which will be discussed shortly, the St. Croix River Valley counties tend to have lower poverty numbers than their respective states. The counties generally have had:
The exception is Burnett County which does not fare as well with respect to these four poverty indicators. The good news is that with respect to all four, the gap between the Wisconsin average and Burnett’s figures has narrowed over the past ten years.
An indicator new to the current State of the Valley website is the percentage of families classified as Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed (ALICE). These are families with members who are working and earn enough to be above the official poverty line, but are unable to afford five basic family needs (food, shelter, medical care, childcare, and transportation). Surprisingly, the St. Croix River Valley counties tend to be equal to or above their state’s average in terms of the percentage of their households classified as ALICE. Nearly one-in-four households in the St. Croix River Valley counties earn enough to be above the poverty line but not enough to afford their basic needs.