PEORIA CO., Ill. -- Despite drops in unemployment, poverty levels are on the rise in Peoria County and the state of Illinois.
A report issued Wednesday by the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center shows that 15 percent of Illinois residents are living in poverty and another 18 percent at near poverty levels.
Poverty is defined as an annual income below $23,000 for a family of four.
Nine Illinois counties, including Knox and McDonough, have poverty rates of over 20 percent. Jackson and Alexander counties in Southern Illinois have the highest poverty rates.
The report suggests low-wage jobs and higher costs of living as reasons for the increase.