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Experts say higher minimum wage could help county poverty rate

Eau Claire Co. (WQOW) — Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is tied for lowest in state history, at 2.8%, but a new study has found, despite that, the poverty rate in Eau Claire County is second highest in the state.

A recent report from the Institute for Research on Poverty, showed Wisconsin’s poverty rate has been between 10% and 11% from 2008 to 2017. It also found roughly 14% of Eau Claire and Chippewa County residents are living in poverty. Milwaukee County is 17% for some perspective.

In the report, experts from UW-Madison suggest raising the state’s minimum wage would help more people get out of poverty. Some Eau Claire County officials agree.

“Assessing how we can help keep our medical costs lower, our childcare costs more affordable, and having affordable housing for folks,” said Human Services Director for Eau Claire County Diane Cable. “Ultimately that living wage, really is going to be able to help.”

Cable added a low unemployment rate sounds positive, but often people are working longer hours or multiple minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. She said costs for living essentials have gone up over the years, and in some cases, multiple jobs are still not enough.

 

Samantha Wensel

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