Sheboygan County rated with lowest poverty level in U.S.

One of the most robust manufacturing economies in the nation coupled with thousands of new job opportunities available present the foundation for Sheboygan County to be acknowledged as having the lowest poverty level in the United States.

An individual making less than $12,060 this year— $24,600 for a family of four— technically lives below the poverty line.

About 14 percent of Americans fit that definition.

Some cities have been hit by poor economic times more than others, and 24/7 Wall St. looked at 382 U.S. metro areas to compile its list of the 49 cities that are doing the best. By their standard, less than 10% of the population lives in poverty.

Sheboygan leads the way among Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with the lowest poverty levels in the U.S. at 5.4 percent. Barnstable Town, Mass is second at 6.5 percent, following by Fond du Lac, Wis. (6.6 percent), Anchorage, Alaska (7.2 percent), Billings, Mont. (7.3 percent) and Napa, Calif. (7.3 percent).

“This is a testament to the broad-based local economy of durable and non-durable manufacturers, coupled with strong growth companies in the financial sector such as Acuity, that provide opportunities for excellent wages, benefits and opportunity for advancement,” noted Jim Schuessler, Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation’s business development manager. “It is also a tribute to the many closely held multi-generational companies here that make long term investments into their future without worrying about stock investors that often trade innovation for a quick buck.”

The unemployed and underemployed are at greater risk of living in poverty than those with jobs that provide steady income and benefits.

Areas with low poverty rates, such as Sheboygan County, tend to have relatively strong economies with low unemployment

In 40 of the 49 metro areas on Wall Street 24/7’s list, the 2016 unemployment rate was lower than the nationwide jobless rate of 4.9 percent.

As of August 2017 Sheboygan County’s unemployment rate was 2.8 percent.

Schuessler noted employment opportunities that have been presented to newcomers to the area, including refugee population.

“We have been able to connect many of our new residents to living-wage, family sustaining careers that also include excellent benefits,” Schuessler said.

Employment levels locally now exceed August of 1999, when the area unemployment rate was at 1.9 percent.

More local opportunity for employment exists for area unemployed and underemployed, as well as newcomers: according to the workforce web site, there are 2,977 job opportunities presently available.

Recent job fairs for two of local employers, Bemis and CertainTeed, that are collectively hiring for over 100 new positions, attracted several hundred prospective employees.

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