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High Poverty Rate for Local Counties

CHAMPAIGN-- The Social Impact Research Center studied poverty trends throughout the state and released the latest report on Wednesday. According to the study, 14.9% of Illinois residents live below the poverty line, which is defined as an income of just over $23,000 a year for a family of 4.

Champaign county had the 3rd highest poverty rate in the state at 23.4%. Vermilion county's rate was 19.8%, tied for 10th highest in the state. Despite the high figures, local employment offices say the report accurately reflects the trends they have been seeing, and it's affecting everyone.

Darlene Kloeppel of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, said, "I think it goes across the board. People have an idea I think that certain kinds of folks or certain kinds of families might be in poverty, and I think they would be surprised to find out that half the people are actually employed. They are working jobs that either don't pay very well hourly wages or they're not working full-time."

She added that some of the numbers may be skewed as they do not reflect those people whose unemployment benefits have already expired. Helping to get people back into the workforce is the challenge facing Rick Krandel. "Some of the basic things they need to know right up front for the job search are resume development, cover letters, applications, interviewing skills. More important than ever is work retention skills"

Also listed by the research center was a county well-being index which takes into account high school graduation rate, teen births, and unemployment rate. Despite Champaign's county's high poverty rate, it did not make that list, but the challenges remain clear.

Said Kloeppel, "We've seen a rise in children that are on free and reduced lunch at school, we've seen a rise in the number of clients who are coming to our office for low income energy assistance. "

Reported by Adam Rife