Marshfield Area Community Foundation and United Way release Vital Signs report
Homeless in youth on the rise, Marshfield community is aging
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield Area United Way and the Marshfield Area Community Foundation has released its annual Vital Signs report.
The report is produced by the two organizations to illustrate the Marshfield community’s social, economic, and civic welfare.
Outgoing Community Foundation Director Amber Leifheit said that the study showed Marshfield’s population holding steady, as did home construction, for report information based on 2017 statistics.
“Home value went up a little, which is really good, because, as you know, it had really bottomed out during the housing crisis,” Leifheit added. “Foreclosures continue to drop, so that is all good news.”
Leifheit said the educational attainment for the Marshfield area has remained fairly consistent over previous years, but for the 2019 report showed Marshfield pulling ahead of Stevens Point in graduate degrees for the first time.
“I am always a little surprised, when you compare Marshfield to Wisconsin Rapids to (Stevens) Point to Wausau – the number of higher degrees,” Leifheit stated. “You’d think, ‘Well, Marshfield is a medical community with all of the doctors or whatever.’ But, this is the first year that we are higher than Stevens Point; we always had trailed them.
“But, when you look at bachelor’s degrees, we do trail Stevens Point. Rapids – they are more blue collar jobs –you can see; they usually have less people going to college.”
Leifheit added that new statistics show Marshfield as an aging community with a lower income.
“When you look at the income, we haven’t kept pace with Wood County, with Wisconsin, or the (United States),” Leifheit explained. “We keep sliding kind of backwards there.
“What we looked at this year for the first time was the age, the breakdown over the years, from 2009 to 2017. If you look, we’ve dropped in people 18-24 years old, and we’ve gone up in 65 and over, 60 and older. So, it really does seem that we have a shift in our demographics.”
Leifheit added that the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board says that this is something that applies statewide.
“Everyone is aging out and the youth are leaving the state and not coming back,” Leifheit said, adding that Workforce Representatives suggest “growing your own” by establishing internships and jobs so the younger generations want to return to the area.
The survey also showed a large need for economic assistance in the area, as the Nutrition on Weekends needs keep growing each year.
“When you look at the Youth Risk Survey, it says that 27.1 percent of students reported that they didn’t have enough food on weekends in their home in the last 30 days,” Amber explained. “With 4,000 students in the school district that is a lot more kids than the 214 (reflected on the report.) So, there are still a lot of kids going hungry.”
In conjunction with those not having adequate food, homelessness in youth is once again on the rise.
“It ticks up and down, but it’s headed back up again,” Leifheit said. “There are 93 last year in the school district.”
Leifheit added that homeless numbers might include children that are “couch surfing,” staying with grandparents, or living with multiple families in the same household.
The full report is available on the Marshfield Area United Way and Marshfield Area Community Foundation websites.