Illinois Poverty Rate 2012: One-Third Of State's Residents Considered Poor According To New Report

A new report sheds light on the troubling — and climbing — number of Illinois residents struggling to get by.

Chicago-based human rights advocacy group Heartland Alliance released data from its annual study that suggests 33 percent of Illinoisans are living in poverty or near it, according to CBS Chicago.

Amy Terpstra of the Heartland Alliance told WBEZ she was shocked by the recent numbers despite seeing poverty statistics all the time. While the recession and high unemployment rates have affected poverty levels, the station reports the study suggests the state's poverty problem was on the rise long before the bruised economy and has more to do with the slow-trickle of low-wage job growth.

“You can work full-time, year round and still fall below the poverty line,” Terpstra said to WBEZ.

According to the Heartland Alliance's report, Cook County is among the counties on the "warning" list, indicating an area in need of immediate action. The unemployment rate as of last September was 8.5 percent, up a point from the previous year.

The seasonally-adjusted national poverty rate in December was 7.8 percent; other cities like Detroit averaged 8.9 percent, and New York averaged 8.7 percent as of November.

In 2012, 39 out of 102 counties in the state were on either the Poverty Watch or Poverty Warning lists.

The January 2013 report also suggests that more than half of all Americans will have experienced poverty by the time they are 65.

According to the 2011 Federal Poverty Threshold, a single person earning $11,484 and a family of four earning $23,021 are considered to be living in poverty.