Richest 20% of Households Make 5 Times More Than the Poorest 20% in Illinois

By Amber Blatt, Policy & Advocacy Intern & Jody Blaylock, Senior Policy Associate

New data from Prosperity Now shows that Illinois is desperately in need of bold change in order for residents to have opportunities to become financially stable. While the national economy is strong, the vast majority of families are not seeing improvements in their income or wealth, and the rich continue to get richer. In Illinois, income inequality continues to worsen, with the richest 20 percent of households now making five times more than the poorest 20 percent.

Prosperity Now’s annual Scorecard provides a comprehensive look at families’ financial health across the United States. It assesses 50 states and the District of Columbia on 62 outcome measures for family financial wellbeing. These outcomes are grouped by five issue areas: financial assets and income; businesses and jobs; homeownership and housing; health care; and education.

Here are key findings on the financial wellbeing of Illinois families:


Racial inequity runs deep

Across all outcomes, we see significant racial inequity in Illinois. Poverty among households of color is 2.4 times higher than white households. White families have more than 29 times the net worth of black families, and 4.7 times the net worth of Hispanic families.

Unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation

Illinois continues to be one of the worst places to land a job, especially for people of color. The unemployment rates have not budged. We rank 44th in unemployment and 46th in underemployment out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Workers of color in Illinois are facing unemployment rates that are 1.8 times higher than that of white workers.

Income volatility keeps families from getting ahead

Twenty two percent of Illinoisans reported that their incomes varied somewhat or a lot from month to month, causing Illinois to rank 31st in income volatility. Unpredictable fluctuations in a family’s income makes it impossible to plan, pay bills on time, and save consistently – presenting huge barriers to financial security.

Illinois ranks 48th in bankruptcy rates

Four out of every 1,000 Illinoisans filed for bankruptcy in 2017, making Illinois’ bankruptcy rate among the highest in the country. This tells us, in no uncertain terms, that many in Illinois are barely keeping afloat financially. In Chicago, many bankruptcy filings are due to parking ticket debt, which overwhelmingly impacts communities of color.

Illinois families need change

Illinois lawmakers must step up to ensure that everyone in the state has the chance to prosper. Illinois has not taken action on most of the policy recommendations that would help families build savings and stay out of poverty. Of the 53 policies included in the Prosperity Now Scorecard that promote financial security, Illinois has only enacted 20 of them.

Take a look at Illinois’ 2018 Scorecard Profile, read Prosperity Now’s main findings, and check out our policy agenda to learn more about policies we’re advancing to close the racial wealth divide and help all Illinoisans thrive.

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