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According to data from the US Census Bureau, the number of people living in poverty in the United States has declined for the fifth consecutive year. About 37 million people, or 11.4% of the total population, lived below the poverty line in 2019. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, poverty rates have fallen thanks to federal assistance. Unemployment benefits kept 5.5 million people out of poverty, according to data from the Supplemental Poverty Measure.

The Census Bureau uses a set of monetary income thresholds — income before taxes and excluding capital gains or benefits such as public housing, Medicaid and food stamps — that vary by family size and composition for determine who is living in poverty. If a family’s total income is below the family threshold, then that family and each individual in it are considered to be living in poverty.

Many experts argue that the US poverty measure is a grossly outdated and incomplete barometer of financial security. When you consider the implications of falling on either side of these thresholds, such as eligibility for various federal or non-federal aids, the formula is incredibly simple. These thresholds are established by tripling the cost of the most basic diet in 1963 – the year of their creation – and adjusting for family size and annual inflation. By this definition, the poverty line today for a family of four is about $26,000 a year; for an individual, that number is $13,000. But the reality of economic hardship does not conform to the output of a calculation, and the lived experience is not the same from person to person.

Basic needs go far beyond the cost of food alone, and these thresholds do not reflect this reality. They do not take into account the vast differences in the cost of living based on geography, cost of housing, child care, transportation, medical care or taxes. Moreover, the definition of family often does not reflect modern society and households.

Because of these factors, poverty looks different from state to state and even city to city. Stacker compiled a list of cities in Illinois where most live below the poverty line using data from the US Census Bureau. Cities with at least 10,000 inhabitants are ranked by percentage of people living below the poverty line in 2019.

#20. Matoon

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 22.2%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 3,760

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 725

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 36.1%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 1,305

– Median household income: $39,852

#19. Dolton

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 22.3%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 4,976

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 865

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 41.3%

— Total number of people under 18 living below the poverty line: 2,321

– Median household income: $46,614

#18. Rockford

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 22.3%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 31,942

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 7,671

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 33.9%

— Total individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 12,181

– Median household income: $44,252

#17. Centralia

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 22.8%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 2,695

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 524

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 35.7%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 971

– Median household income: $37,675

#16. Chicago Heights

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 24.2%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 7,138

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 1,172

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 36.1%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 2,922

– Median household income: $50,186

#15. Normal

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 24.6%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 12,091

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 4,962

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 13.0%

— Total number of people under 18 living below the poverty line: 1,197

– Median household income: $58,111

#14. Champagne

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 25.0%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 19,910

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 6,358

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 16.9%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 2,372

– Median household income: $48,415

#13. Riverdale

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 26.3%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 3,364

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 454

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 34.8%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 1,258

– Median household income: $35,711

#12. Alton

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 26.6%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 6,943

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 1,569

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 38.7%

— Total number of people under 18 living below the poverty line: 2,331

– Median household income: $40,211

#11. DeKalb

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 28.5%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 11,046

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 3,348

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 33.5%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 2,482

– Median household income: $45,020

#ten. Kankakeee

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 28.9%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 7,196

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 1,178

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 39.8%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 2,667

– Median household income: $37,894

#9. Charleston

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 29.2%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 5,089

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 2,303

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 27.4%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 798

– Median household income: $40,863

#8. Danville

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 29.4%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 8,485

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 1,424

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 44.3%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 3,431

– Median household income: $36,172

#seven. macomb

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 29.8%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 4,329

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 1,531

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 18.0%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 470

– Median household income: $39,384

#6. Urban

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 29.8%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 10,643

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 3,200

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 21.8%

— Total number of people under 18 living below the poverty line: 1,158

– Median household income: $37,102

#5. Cahokia

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 30.3%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 4,224

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 503

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 46.2%

— Total number of people under 18 living below the poverty line: 1,909

– Median household income: $35,663

#4. Sauk Village

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 31.8%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 3,297

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 735

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 55.6%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 1,651

– Median household income: $38,788

#3. Harvey

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 32.8%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 7,917

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 1,412

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 45.9%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 2,943

– Median household income: $30,306

#2. East of St. Louis

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 33.4%

— Total number of individuals living below the poverty line: 8,840

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 1,526

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 49.6%

— Total number of people under 18 living below the poverty line: 3,194

– Median household income: $24,343

#1. Carbondale

– Percentage of individuals living below the poverty line: 43.1%

— Total number of people living below the poverty line: 9,450

— Total employed persons living below the poverty line: 3,734

– Percentage of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 44.6%

— Total number of individuals under 18 living below the poverty line: 1,501

– Median household income: $22,152


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