More people seem to have less money these days. Research from the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance Social Impact Research Center indicates the number of Illinoisans in poverty held mostly steady: It was 1.88 million in 2011, dropping to 1.85 million in 2012. What’s more, says the center’s associate director, things have been headed downhill for years.
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“Over the course of the last decade plus a few years, poverty was creeping up even before the recession began,” says Amy Terpstra, “and that really points to the much bigger-picture structural changes in our economy that have led to the jobs that are available simply not being the quality of jobs that provide kind of a family-supporting wage and have other benefits.” The poverty level for a family of three is $18,000. Terpstra says a decade or so ago, about 11 percent of Illinoisans were in poverty. Now it’s 14.7 percent.