As Utah moves more government services online, it also risks pushing more low-income Utahns away from access to services, like Medicaid and food stamps.
Low-income advocates of the Crossroads Urban Center recently surveyed 272 clients to their food pantry between May 1 and May 10 and found that 43.3 percent of their clients did not have active e-mail accounts and 29.4 percent said they did not even have ready access to a phone.
“You can’t apply for a job at Walmart or Burger King and not be online,” says Marjorie Hurder of the Crossroads Urban Center, who conducted the survey. “Everything is online now.” The Crossroads Urban Center is hoping that state officials consider efforts to help low-income Utahns to cross the digital divide and are calling on the Intergenerational Poverty Commission, a body created in the 2013 Legislature, to consider advancing basic computer skills as an important educational tool for helping Utahns rise out of poverty.
A bill from the 2012 session generated a study of poverty in Utah, and noted that based on 2010 census data, 364,833 Utahns were living in poverty in 2012.