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UW Madison study pegs poverty rate in Wisconsin lower than fed estimate

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A more comprehensive poverty index shows that Wisconsin is doing better than what the federal government says – but the 2011 poverty rate was still higher than the year before.

A UW Madison institute said 10.7 percent of Wisconsinites were in poverty, down from 10.3 percent the previous year. Washington had put the figure at 13-percent.

The UW said there was a larger increase in child poverty to 12-point-two percent – a jump of almost a point-and-a-half.

The university’s survey takes more factors into account than the federal poverty estimates, which are based only on pre-tax income.

The UW’s numbers also reflect things like people’s medical, transportation, and child care expenses – plus the effect of tax-funded programs for the poor like Food-Share and Badger-Care.

The report blames the increasing poverty on lower family incomes, plus changes in assistance programs.

The UW’s Timothy Smeeding said Wisconsin’s public aid programs are doing a good job – but not as good as in 2010. He said state officials should be wary about cutting those programs back too much.