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Social services implode as middle class shrinks

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Chicago Magazine took a look at the Chicago-area social service providers from that devastating United Way of Illinois survey we’ve talked about before

Chicago-area humanitarian groups have long warned that the Illinois state budget crisis would cause irreparable damage to the state’s social safety net, and the latest survey numbers suggest it’s already happened.

Of the 172 human service agencies in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will County surveyed by United Way this month, 91 percent said they had cut clients due to budget troubles. That’s up from 37 percent of agencies who said the same in July 2015.

More than half (55 percent) of the agencies said they would have to cease some services within the next six months if the state doesn’t fix its budget problem. And 36 percent say they will have to close their doors in that time frame. That’s 61 groups providing services like shelters for the homeless, food for the hungry, mental health care, support for domestic violence victims, and educational services that will soon shutter, according the United Way survey.

* And then there’s this context

While it’s never a good sign for social service organizations to be shuttering and turning down clients, this comes at a particularly tough time for the Chicago metro area, as the Metropolitan Planning Council reports that the middle class is shrinking (down 9 percent between 2000 and 2014) and mostly moving into the lower class (up 16 percent in the same time frame). As Marisa Novara writes, “This may be due in part to the fact that our unemployment rate jumped a full 63 percent from 2000 to 2014, from 4.3 percent to 7.1, an increase second only to Los Angeles among peer metros.”

* From that MPC report

A conundrum amidst continuous news of the endless permutations of the middle class: If the middle class is shrinking, is it because the lower class is growing, or the upper? It turns out that for the Chicago region, it’s both, with substantially higher growth among the lower-income. From 2000 to 2014, the percentage of lower-income metro Chicagoans grew from 23.6 to 27.4, a jump of 16 percent. Middle incomers dropped from 56.3 to 51.1, a loss of 9 percent, and upper incomers grew from 20.2 to 21.5, an increase of 6 percent.

These changes are actually less extreme than those in, for instance, the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, where the lower class grew by 22 percent, middle class fell by 11 percent, and upper class increased 12 percent.

According to Pew, looking back further to 1970 shows an even more pronounced shrinking of the middle class. For the entire country, the middle-income share decreased from 61 percent in 1971 to 50 percent in 2015. Over this nearly 45-year period, the share of the upper-income tier rose from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the share in the lower-income tier increased from 25 percent to 29 percent.

According to Census data, Chicago’s shift was even more extreme: The share of middle class families in metropolitan Chicago has declined from 72 percent in 1970 to just 47 percent today.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

33 Comments
  1. - CCP Hostage - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:16 pm:

    In other words, everything is going according to plan. /s


  2. - Illinois Bob - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:29 pm:

    and not a mentin of one of the greatest causes of the increases of low income people in Illinois and Chicago…immigration, legal and illegal, of low income people south of the border.

    You don’t find engineers, programmers, and executives moving from Mexico City to Chicago, they’re largely the poorly educated and very low income folks looking for a better life even as a dishwasher or landscaper. Hispanic immigration has hugely impacted the cost of public services in Illinois for health care, education and public assistance. To completely ignore the effects of that in this discussion discredits those writing these reports and articles.


  3. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:30 pm:

    What Rauner calls #Winning.


  4. - Keyrock - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    I see regularly people who are applying for Social Security disability. It’s astonishing (as well as penny-wise and pound-foolish) how many would not need to apply if they received half-decent regular health care — and especially half-decent mental health care.

    But our state, which was already at the bottom in funding mental health services under Blago and Quinn, is racing to new, subterranean bottoms.

    The waste in disability payments, lost tax revenues, and, most importantly, human lifves, is astounding.


  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    This decrease in the middle class is what Rauner means when he says turnaround.


  6. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:38 pm:

    Don’t feed it.


  7. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:39 pm:

    I see i-bob has gone from physics teacher, to chemical engineer, and now sociologist.


  8. - Illinois Bob - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:44 pm:

    So honeybear, apparently you’re one of those folks who can’t handle debating, or even reading, dissenting opinions. I guess that’s part of the government mindset you bring here…


  9. - #5 - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:46 pm:

    “one of those folks who can’t handle debating”

    The volume and content of her posts she has made prove otherwise.


  10. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:47 pm:

    He’s probably not all wrong. Don’t forget the loss of 40,000 people either.


  11. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:55 pm:

    So, under Illinois’ antiquated flat tax system, the state tax burden will fall on a shrinking middle class population. Nice deal for the wealthy, though, including the newly minted wealthy described here.

    Who says Illinois is behind the times. In the income inequality race, we seem to be keeping up just fine. With plenty of help from our political masters of both parties, who appear to be strongly fixed on taking a big chunk of wealth out of the middle class starting in January. Make no mistake, behind the rhetoric, all of the “talks” are about how high a tax can we implement and when. And who gets the blame. The rest is noise.


  12. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 12:58 pm:

    Higher taxes, large budget deficits, and increased government spending are driving middle class residents to other states. The people replacing them are low income, govt. dependent people. With less income from a reduced middle class, social services will have to be reduced as result of less tax money. If the state govt. does not fix this problem, it will only grow worse!


  13. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:05 pm:

    Bob:

    Perhaps if you didn’t throw out things without having any sort of factual basis. You have proof that our problems are caused by immigration?

    And once again instead of addressing the issue of the devastation that the budget is having on social services you choose to bring in some off the wall commentary.

    Perhaps one day you’ll acknowledge the devastation instead of blaming the providers and telling us all you think there’s a conspiracy in the numbers.


  14. - X-prof - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:08 pm:

    “You don’t find engineers, programmers, and executives moving from Mexico City to Chicago, …”

    Really, Illinois Bob? I certainly see highly qualified students from Mexico coming to study engineering, CS and other well-paying fields at U of I and staying on to take advantage of the better job market here. Do you have any factual basis for your claim that they don’t? Citing Trump’s stump speech doesn’t count.


  15. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    Income inequality is a national problem, heavily affected by globalization and technology, I don’t think governments can do much about their march, Brexit vote and Trump pronouncements notwithstanding.

    But we have to deal with the effects, which probably include a significant redistribution of resources. The question is, who pays, or rather, who can pay. Here in Illinois, that question is deeply unresolved, but we seem to lean towards favoring the wealthy when we send out the bill.


  16. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:33 pm:

    Bob: “not a mentin [sic] of one of the greatest causes of the increases of low income people in Illinois and Chicago…immigration, legal and illegal, of low income people south of the border.”

    The Pew Charitable Trusts: “In Illinois, new arrivals from Mexico plummeted 71 percent from 2005 to 2014, to about 11,300, while the number of new immigrants from India nearly tripled, to about 17,900. *** Today’s newest immigrants are more likely to arrive legally and with college degrees than a decade ago.” http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2016/03/09/in-more-states-newest-immigrants-are-educated-asians

    Bob: “To completely ignore the effects of that in this discussion discredits those writing these reports and articles.”

    And complete and willful ignorance of the facts underlying this discussion discredits those writing baseless comments on this blog. Even a cursory examination of your posts invariably exposes them as long-winded bluster barren of factual substance or intellectual rigor.

    Honeybear’s call to ignore you was an act of kindness.

    – MrJM


  17. - Illinois Bob - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:36 pm:

    @X-prof

    =I certainly see highly qualified students from Mexico coming to study engineering, CS and other well-paying fields at U of I and staying on to take advantage of the better job market here.=

    Of course SOME do, X-prof, but what percentage of all migrants from Mexico do? Life can be good for well educated Mexicans in Mexico due to the NAFTA shift of manufacturing there. Many Mexican’s I’ve known would prefer to live there if they had the opportunity, which is why so many don’t assimilate here. It’s not all that easy to stay here once the student visa expires, which is a problem.

    The issue here is concerning the effects of having low income immigrants result in expanding the US lower class. higher percentages of immigrants go on public assistance than the general population, and I’m sure you’re not claiming that the immigration has more engineers than low skill workers from Mexico in Chicago.

    No doubt that this skews the low income numbers higher. I find it troubling that they wouldn’t even mention this.


  18. - illinois manufacturer - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:46 pm:

    I see the upper class grew in highly tax progressive Minnesota.


  19. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:47 pm:

    We can control the number of skilled workers we allow to work in the US, and many corporations would probably prefer to hire foreign nationals because they can pay them less and visa restrictions may make them less likely to change jobs. Since this is America, those corporations have a lot of influence in Congress. This is an area of immigration which doesn’t get much attention, and probably should, as long as US workers have difficulty getting skilled work with good wages. I actually know some of these skilled immigrants. They are good people and they hope to attain citizenship eventually, or at least dual citizenship. But what should our national policy be?


  20. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:47 pm:

    ==These changes are actually less extreme than those in, for instance, the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, where the lower class grew by 22 percent, middle class fell by 11 percent, and upper class increased 12 percent.==

    Uh oh, everyone’s favorite progressive “Minnesota Model” doesn’t seem to be working either.


  21. - illinois Bob - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:49 pm:

    @MR JayEm
    I actually read that piece, and it still didn’t mention the impact of current immigrants as opposed to “new immigrants”. It also was silent on the impact of illegal immigration.

    You clearly want to ignore these facts and the impact on the subject.

    I guess that “willful ignorance” is something we share, JM.

    If you bothered to read the article above, it goes from 2000 to 2013, a time outside your PEW report.

    If your point is that there are now more high income Indians in Chicago than low income Hispanic immigrants first generation, your logic is certainly flawed.

    Sorry, but I believe in debate rather than ignoring opposing opinion. Ignoring is the basis of ignorance. You seem to fit the definition.


  22. - illinois Bob - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    @Dem

    =And once again instead of addressing the issue of the devastation that the budget is having on social services you choose to bring in some off the wall commentary.=

    If you don’t understand the cause and nature of the problem, you’ll never find an effective solution. Having immigration of low income people needing social services is a major contributing factor, the solution is different than having middle class people drop to low income. If you don’t understand that, learn it before discussing policy.

    =Perhaps one day you’ll acknowledge the devastation instead of blaming the providers and telling us all you think there’s a conspiracy in the numbers.=

    If you pick up your reading comprehension, you’d see I’m not blaming the providers here. I’m challenging the CAUSE of the need for higher service levels. You need to know that to form the best solution.

    Bottom line is that these services need to be funded, and evaluated for value and effectiveness on an ongoing basis. Are you disagreeing with that?


  23. - Mama - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    The link IL Bob is missing is the fact that businesses want the cheap Mexican labor. If factories, etc. did not hire the Mexicans, they would not be there.


  24. - Mama - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 1:59 pm:

    ==Uh oh, everyone’s favorite progressive “Minnesota Model” doesn’t seem to be working either. ==

    The “Minnesota Model” is working a whole lot better than the model IL is using.


  25. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 2:01 pm:

    Bob:

    The current social service crisis has absolutely nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with the fact that they aren’t being paid.

    If you want to have some academic debate about the effects of immigration on social services then be my guest. If you think now is the time for that debate then you need your head examined.


  26. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 2:02 pm:

    Bob,

    The quality of your ‘rebuttal’ is both predictable and self-evident.

    Good day.

    – MrJM


  27. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 2:08 pm:

    I also don’t believe that immigration is a major contributing factor when considering the entire social service safety net.

    ==shelters for the homeless, food for the hungry, mental health care, support for domestic violence victims, and educational services==


  28. - Downstate Illinois - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 2:30 pm:

    Gee, if unemployment went up 63% you’d think some bodies would want to improve the economic climate to facilitate job growth.


  29. - m - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 3:08 pm:

    It’s not rocket science.
    Middle class are more likely to leave Illinois.
    Lower income birth rate is highest while middle class birth rate is shrinking.
    And thanks to the internet and the stock market it’s easier to get rich than ever before.


  30. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 3:14 pm:

    Saying this since January.

    The service providers who survived the first wave of closures can’t make it through another year like the last. They are almost tapped out. No budget this year will have much worse consequences than last year.


  31. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 5:03 pm:

    bad news, Catholic Charities have reported they will be closing ALL of the DCFS related Child Care facilities…. all….

    It means an ill equipped DCFS very well may not have placement for hundreds of kids.

    Ouch!


  32. - X-prof - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 7:12 pm:

    Illinois Bob - What percentage of US citizens become engineers or computer scientists? A small fraction. There are many other career paths that lead to middle class income or better, and I know many immigrants who have followed these. Of course there are more that a few doing menial labor that US citizens aren’t interested in. But here in central Illinois, white rural poor are still the main consumers of social services. Chicago is a different story I’m sure, but you’re just blowing hot air with or no supporting data.

    My apologies to others for feeding you.


  33. - Daniel Plainview - Wednesday, Jun 29, 16 @ 8:48 pm:

    - and not a mentin of one of the greatest causes of the increases of low income people in Illinois and Chicago…immigration, legal and illegal, of low income people south of the border. -

    One of the greatest? Is that a quantity I missed in my engineering and math classes, or just another unsubstantiated claim by the “World’s Most Interesting Engineer”?

    Maybe they only taught that one to the Nuclear/Mechanical/Civil/Physics/Sociology/Psychology/Economics/Statistics/Education majors.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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