Economic Opportunity and Family Prosperity
capitolWorking households
struggle in Iowa

Cost of Living in Iowa 2018 report
details challenges county by county

Nearly 100,000 Iowa working households earn too little for a basic standard of living without public supports beyond health insurance, despite one or more full-time wage earners in the family.

Part 1: Basic Needs Budgets
Part 2: Struggle for Thousands
Map to county-by-county tables
News release

Part 3: Strengthening Pathways to the Middle Class
News release

itepgraphUnions beating unbalanced bargaining law

Forced recertification votes show heavy support for unions

If Iowa lawmakers thought that their Draconian revisions to Chapter 20 could break the back of public-sector unionism, the last two months have proven them spectacularly wrong. Since early September, almost 500 of Iowa’s public-sector bargaining units have been forced into recertification elections.
Iowa Policy Points post by Colin Gordon

state capitol cafoMore health coverage for Iowans

New census data show sharp 3-year decline in uninsurance

New data from the Census Bureau show more Iowans had access to health insurance, chopping uninsurance by nearly half in just three years.
See our news release

A better focus for health reform: Fix exchanges

‘Repeal and replace’ obsession distracts from real issue

The problems with the insurance exchange in Iowa are fixable — and not a good excuse to fund tax cuts to the wealthy by forcing tens of thousands of Iowans off health insurance.
Peter Fisher’s post on Iowa Policy Points

How ACA repeal offered more costs, less coverage and a tax break for the rich

The Senate plan: Force millions off health insurance but finance tax cuts to the wealthiest.

Backgrounder 6/28/2017 (or two-page PDF)
Peter Fisher interview with KVFD's Michael Devine

Similar to the Senate plan, the House bill jeopardizes Iowa’s recent health coverage gains and puts the state’s most vulnerable residents at risk.
Peter Fisher report 6/22/2017
News release
Different cost impacts county by county

Could Iowa pick up the tab if the feds cut health care?
Higher costs for an already strapped state budget: IPP news release 6/6/2017
Disproportionate impacts on women and rural Iowans: News release 5/16/2017
Medicaid expansion map 3/25/2017

jobsWhen work falls short, how do Iowa
policies help families meet needs?

Iowa can design child care assistance and other policies to “make work pay” for low-income working families.
Full report 11/15/16 NEW!
Full report printable PDF (20 pages)
Cliff effects backgrounder PDF (2 pages)
News release (or 2 page PDF)

Nearly 1 in 5 working households in Iowa do not earn enough to meet a basic needs family budget.
Part 2: Families Struggle to Meet Needs 7/6/16
Full report printable PDF (6 pages)
News release (or 2 page PDF)

Part 1: Basic Family Budgets 4/5/16
Full report printable PDF (21 pages)
News release (or 2 page PDF)

Stolen Chances: Low-Wage Work and Wage Theft in Iowa
New report examines recent enforcement data, and survey of low-wage workers
As we approach Labor Day 2015, many Iowans — those who work at jobs that provide little security, those who are not paid the wages they have earned — will not be celebrating.
Full report or 16-page PDF 9/2/15
Executive summary or 2-page PDF
News release or 2-page PDF

Colin Gordon“In the absence of the security provided by high-wage, career employment, and in the absence of workplace organizations sufficient to sustain workers’ bargaining power, public policy must fill in the gaps.” — Colin Gordon

In the media:
The Press-Citizen, Iowa City — 9/3/15
Quad-City Times, Davenport — 9/3/15
The Devine Intervention, KVFD-AM 1400, Fort Dodge — 9/3/15

Put state focus on wage theft
Nonsense of political job count distracts from IWD’s job
Iowa Workforce Development could do much to help Iowa working families who are losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year to employers who cheat them out of wages. But that will take leadership.

Des Moines Register "Iowa View" by IPP’s Mike Owen 12/29/15 NEW!

Jobs remain way behind Governor's goal
IPP: IWD chief should retract rosy jobs claim
Iowa has created barely half of the jobs sought by Governor Branstad in a campaign goal back in 2010, but Iowa Workforce Development is promoting the goal as met.

IPP Statement 11/30/15
Cedar Rapids Gazette guest opinion by IPP’s Mike Owen 12/16/15
Cedar Rapids Gazette column by Todd Dorman 12/3/15
Des Moines Register editorial 12/4/15
Bleeding Heartland blog post 12/22/15
IPP-annotated state spreadsheet 1/12/16

Stubbornness of Poverty and Income Stagnation in Iowa
But Health Coverage Jumps Following Reforms, New Census Data Show
New Census data offer a mixed picture of the economic challenges Iowans are facing in key measures of family prosperity. Poverty and income data remained largely unchanged in 2014 from 2013, while health coverage jumped as new reforms took effect.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership summary 9/17/15

Minimum wage graphicA new goal: $12 by 2020
As U.S., Iowa let minimum wage erode,
new proposal would benefit 436,000 in Iowa

Proponents of a minimum-wage increase propose bringing the wage floor back up to where it was in the late 1960s, in five steps.
Economic Policy Institute report 4/30/15
Iowa Policy Project fact sheet (2-page PDF) 4/28/15

Also see these IPP resources
• Impact of raise to $8.75: IPP fact sheet (2-page PDF) 3/31/15
Iowa Policy Points post by Mike Owen 2/24/15
• Impact of raise to $10.10: IPP fact sheet (2-page PDF) 2/9/15
The Cost of Living in Iowa — What it takes to get by in our state

Inequities in Iowa Income Growth ...
Low- and Middle-Income Iowans Pay Largest Shares of Income in State, Local Tax
Inequality graph 2015The top 1 percent of earners captured almost two-thirds of income growth in Iowa during the recovery from the last recession, a new national report shows.
Iowa Policy Project news release
or 2-page PDF 1/26/15
Iowa fact sheet (2-page PDF)
Full report from the Economic Analysis Research Network
... and Inequities in Iowa Tax Law
Low- and Middle-Income Iowans Pay Largest Shares of Income in State, Local Tax
Who Pays graph 2015As new tax proposals emerge, the consequences of past decisions remain clear: The more you make, the less a share of income you can expect to pay in Iowa taxes.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership news release
or 2-page PDF 1/14/15
Iowa fact sheet (2-page PDF)
Full report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
Challenges for Iowa Families' Household Budgets

Uninsurance: Iowa ahead of most states, but quarter million Uninsured
Iowa income and poverty trends
Wages: Growth lags at median, lower incomesThe State of Working Iowa online
Food insecurity: A problem for 12 percent of Iowa households

Immigrants in Iowa: What New Iowans Contribute to the State Economy

Undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $64 million in state and local taxes, according to a new Iowa Policy Project report. The authors suggest immigration reform that expands work authorization or access to citizenship would increase the already significant contribution to Iowa by all immigrants — documented or not.

Heather GibneyPeter Fisher Full report by Heather Gibney and Peter Fisher 7/2/14
16-pg PDF of full report, including executive summary
2-pg PDF of executive summary only, or read online
News release
Fisher interview with Mike Devine on KVFD-1400 Fort Dodge 7/31/14

“The vitality that immigrants bring to Iowa communities is expanded by their economic contributions, as well as the taxes they pay — with limited access in some cases to the services they support.” — Heather Gibney

Let's Be Done with Iowa's Fake Job Number
For some time now, IPP and others have noted a bogus statistic that has been inserted into official jobs data provided by the state.
Mike OwenRead Iowa Policy Points post by Mike Owen. 3/18/14.

“For those of us engaged in nonpartisan research and analysis, the political tainting of IWD reports is a great disappointment.”

Making Sense of the Attacks on Iowa's Public Pension Systems
Peter FisherIn Iowa and most states, public-sector pension systems remain strong and healthy. For that reason, Iowans should not be distracted by the scare tactics offered by those seeking to reduce state commitments.
Read guest opinion by IPP's Peter Fisher in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. 3/19/14.

Reducing the Cliff Effects in Iowa Child Care Assistance
Eligibility restrictions in Iowa’s Child Care Assistance program cement roadblocks to self-sufficiency for low-wage working parents, but could be reformed to increase both efficiency and access to child care. Our new report offers illustrations of how eligibility rules and cost-sharing by families could be adjusted to better meet family needs.
Read full report. (5-page PDF) 3/13/14.
News release

High Cost of Child Care in Iowa Now a Barrier to the Middle Class
Iowa’s child care assistance programs should encourage parents to further their education.
Read policy brief by Lily French and Peter Fisher. 11/26/13.
Read executive summary or 2-pg PDF.
Read news release.

The Cost of Living in Iowa 2014 — Where Even the Median Wage Isn't Enough
Cost of Living vs med wage
Even at the state's median wage, many families in Iowa cannot make ends meet. IPP's latest Cost of Living in Iowa report illustrates costs of a basic-needs, no-frills family budget — and higher costs of housing, food, transportation and child care.

Peter FisherLily French Read full report by Peter Fisher and Lily French. 2/26/14

Or as 22-pg PDF.
Get data by county or region:
Map with links to printable county tables, or
Excel sheet.

Read news release.

Keep High Quality in High Quality Jobs
Proposed reforms of Iowa Economic Development Authority programs raise questions about the quality of jobs that proponents would subsidize with public money.
Read backgrounder by Colin Gordon. 2/27/14

The Rich Get Richer: Top Incomes in Iowa, U.S., in Context
While the income gap in Iowa is not as stark as it is in many other states, it is still wide — and getting wider. Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent in Iowa claimed almost one-third (29.8 percent) of all income gains.
Read IPP Policy Snapshot by Colin Gordon. 2/19/14.
Read The Increasingly Unequal States of America from the Economic Policy Institute. 2/19/14. NEW!

Colin Gordon“Inequality is high during eras of light financial regulation and lax labor standards (before the 1930s and after the 1970s). But it narrows when public policies make an effort to sustain the bargaining power of ordinary Americans, and regulate the ambitions of the richest among us.”
— IPP's Colin Gordon

top 1% income share graph

Income Down, Poverty Up in Lingering Effects of the Great Recession
More Iowans remained in poverty three years after the recession, according to new data from the Census Bureau.
Read our news release or 1-pg PDF. 9/19/13.

david osterberg“Whether you’re looking at jobs, or income, or poverty, or food insecurity, we simply have not caught up with where we were before the Great Recession.” — IPP's David Osterberg

Hear IPP's Mike Owen on Mike Devine's "Devine Intervention" program on KVFD-AM 1400, Fort Dodge 9/20/13

At Doorstep to ACA Implementation, Iowa Sees Decade Drop in Coverage
As the nation prepares for the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a steep recession and compensation trends have left 1 in 9 working-age Iowans and children without insurance.
Read news release or 2-pg PDF. 9/17/13

Well-Educated Workforce: The Key to Prosperity
The best way for Iowa to grow its economy is by investing in a well-educated workforce, according to a new paper published for the Economic Analysis and Research Network.
Read full report by Noah Berger and IPP's Peter Fisher. 8/22/13
Read news release. 8/22/13

Peter Fisher“Investing in education is also good for state budgets in the long run. Highly educated workers have higher incomes and thus pay more in taxes and rely less on state assistance.” — IPP's Peter Fisher, co-author of report

Food Insecurity Trends Rising in Iowa
While Congress fails to resolve a stalemate on food assistance and the Farm Bill, long-term trends show hunger rising in Iowa. A new report from USDA puts the share of households challenged by food insecurity rising in 10 years from 9.1 percent to 12.6 percent.
Read news release or 2-pg PDF. 9/4/13

The State of Working Iowa 2013
Recovery has offered Iowans little respite from the challenges of diminished job security and widening inequality, the annual State of Working Iowa report finds.
Read The State of Working Iowa 2013 online interactive version
or 18-pg PDF. 8/30/13.

Or our news release. 8/30/13.

colin gordon“Labor Day is a good time to remember that shared prosperity rests on policies and institutions that sustain the bargaining power of workers.” — IPP's Colin Gordon, author of The State of Working Iowa 2013

Low-Wage Workers: You Deserve a Break Today, from Sketchy Advice
“We have a proposal for McDonald’s and VISA: Leave economic and policy analysis to us, and we won’t compete with you on burgers and debt.”
Read the blog post from IPP's Mike Owen 7/18/13
Hear IPP's Peter Fisher on Mike Devine's "Devine Intervention" program on KVFD-AM 1400, Fort Dodge 7/17/13

Minimum Wage: Off the Pace Again — in Iowa and U.S.
min wage buying power Once upon a time, not so long ago, Iowa was among the leading states with its minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for non-tipped workers. That was then. This is now.
Read our policy brief 3/5/13
Hear IPP's David Osterberg discuss this issue with KVFD's Mike Devine on "The Devine Intervention" 3/6/13

The State of Working Iowa 2012
Iowans face stagnant wage growth, declining job quality, starkly higher costs for family basics like health care and education, labor standards that are slipping or evaded altogether, a loss of voice and bargaining power in the workplace, and meager or poorly designed social policies. As author Colin Gordon writes:
“The forces bearing on the economic fortunes and economic opportunities of working Iowans are relentless.”

Read our news release or view the report online or as a PDF 12/18/12
Hear IPP's David Osterberg on KVFD-AM's “Devine Intervention” program with Mike Devine 12/21/12

Iowa Job-Based Health Coverage Declines Faster than U.S. Rate
Although most Americans under 65 rely on health insurance offered through the workplace, the rate of coverage continues to decline, and faster in Iowa than nationally.
Read our news release or view the report from the Economic Policy Institute (PDF) 12/6/12

Health Coverage Up for Young Adults; Poverty, Stagnant Income Still Stubborn
Health insurance coverage for young Iowa adults grew during the time after passage of the new health-care law, new data from the Census Bureau show.
Read our news release or download 2-page PDF 9/20/12

Data from the Census' Current Population Survey illustrate stubborn issues for Iowans in gaining health insurance coverage and better incomes, and breaking free of poverty.
Read our news release or download 2-page PDF 9/12/12

“When over 300,000 people cannot get health insurance in our state, it is no time to be turning back efforts to increase access.” — IPP's Peter Fisher

Putting Iowa Workers Back on High Road
The period around Labor Day is a good time to consider new public policy opportunities, particularly those affecting the hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers, most of whom have seen their real wages actually decline over the last decade. IPP and others have shown at least three areas where the state could move quickly to improve opportunity for Iowa’s working families.
Read our IPP Policy Shapshot or download 2-page PDF 9/2/12

Wage Theft in Iowa: An Invisible Epidemic
Too many Iowans are not paid wages they are legally owed, and woefully limited state enforcement efforts are failing to protect workers, honest employers and Iowa taxpayers from a growing epidemic of wage theft.

“Workers’ hard-earned wages are being stolen, the state is losing revenues, and good businesses are being put at a market disadvantage against shifty competitors.” — co-author Colin Gordon

Read our full report 30-page PDF 8/27/12
Read our executive summary 2-page PDF
Read our news release or download 2-page PDF
View blog post on Iowa Policy Points by co-author Jennifer Sherer
Hear David Osterberg's interview with Mike Devine of KVFD-AM 1400 Fort Dodge
Hear Colin Gordon's interview with Ed Fallon on "The Fallon Forum"

Minimum Wage Boost: Help for 330,000 Iowa Workers
An estimated 332,000 Iowans would see direct or indirect benefits from an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour by July 2014, according to a new analysis.
Read our news release or download 2-page PDF 8/15/12

Union Membership and Income Inequality
To a remarkable extent, inequality, which fell during the New Deal but has risen dramatically since the late 1970s, corresponds to the rise and fall of unionization in the United States.
See the Economic Snapshot from the Economic Policy Institute by Ross Eisenbrey of EPI and Colin Gordon, U of Iowa history professor and IPP senior research consultant 6/5/12
Also see the animated graphs in Colin Gordon's post on EPI's "working economics" blog 6/5/12
The Price of Low Pay: Cost of Living in Iowa Shows Why Many Iowans Fall Short
IPP's latest report on The Cost of Living in Iowa recommends that Iowa expand existing work supports to close a demonstrated gap between low Iowa wages and what is necessary to support a basic, frugal family budget.
Read our report or download 24-page PDF 5/31/12
Read our news release
For county-by-county information, click here
Hear Peter Fisher's interview on Mike Devine's "Devine Intervention" program on KVFD Fort Dodge
Peter Fisher's presentation slides to United Way of the Quad-Cities 9/18/12

Boosting the Middle Class: What Research Shows About Harkin Bill
The "Rebuild America Act" proposed today by Senator Tom Harkin offers several steps that would benefit the middle class and rejuvenate the American economy. Over the last 10 years, IPP has recommended policies that are touched on by several parts of the Senator’s proposal.
Read our statement or download 1-page PDF 3/29/12

New Analysis Shows EITC Benefits Across Iowa — by Legislative District
Raising the Iowa Earned Income Tax Credit from 7 percent of the federal EITC to 20 percent not only would raise the threshold at which Iowa families start to owe state income taxes, but would boost local economies throughout the state. In fact, the increase would provide an average benefit per House district of almost $550,000, which residents would use in their local economy.
Read our policy brief 4-page PDF 3/29/12

Read EITC: A Hand Up to Working Families, Local Economy 3-page PDF 2/17/12
Read Support for Working Iowa Families or download 3-page PDF 12/29/11

Read Andrew Cannon's guest opinion in the Iowa City Press-Citizen or download 2-page PDF 2/24/12

Tests of this legislative session: TIF reform, and improvements to working-family tax policy and preschool.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership statement 1/10/12
Health Insurance: Job-Based Benefits in Iowa and U.S. Decline
Nearly 143,000 Iowans lost employer-sponsored health coverage in a dramatic national decline in job-based insurance over the last decade.
Read our Iowa news release or download 2-page PDF 2/23/12
Read the Economic Policy Institute report 26-page PDF 2/23/12

Iowa's Earned Income Tax Credit: Expansion is in Order in 2012
The 2012 legislative session offers lawmakers a timely opportunity to review and expand Iowa’s Earned Income Tax Credit.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership policy brief 3-page PDF 2/17/11
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership policy brief or download 3-page PDF 12/29/11

The test of this legislative session will be how lawmakers fill in the blanks left by Governor Branstad's Condition of the State address. That means reform of tax-increment financing, and improvements to working-family tax policy and preschool in Iowa.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership statement 1/10/12

A day before a legislative panel reviewed four state tax-credit programs, a new national report put a spotlight on Iowa’s poor treatment of low-income working families.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership news release 11/15/11
Read Des Moines Register story: "Have state tax credits worked for Iowa?" 11/16/11

Iowa Gets C-Plus at Holding Subsidy-Winners to Job Promises
Not only do economic development deals often fall short on job creation or other benefits, states are highly inconsistent in how they monitor, verify and enforce the terms of job subsidies that cost taxpayers billions of dollars per year. A national study gives Iowa a C-plus on that score.
Read Good Jobs First / IPP news release 4-page PDF 1/18/12
Read Good Jobs First executive summary 8-page PDF
Read Iowa appendix 2-page PDF

The World of Nonstandard Work:
Where Workers Fend for Themselves
A changing labor market is diverting workers from jobs that offer insurance toward nonstandard work or arrangements that make finding affordable insurance difficult, a trend that contributes to job instability, according to a new report.
Read full report 59-page PDF 10/5/11
Read executive summary or download 2-page PDF
Read news release

The State of Working Iowa 2011: The Jobs Deficit, and Underemployment
To replace lost jobs and keep up with population growth, Iowa will need to add 3,000 jobs a month over the next three years.
Read executive summary 9/2/11
Download full report
Read news release

“By any measure, this will be the longest recovery in Iowa’s modern history.” — IPP’s Noga O’Connor

Judging Business Subsidies: Don't Forget Job Standards
Iowa does better than most states, but that's not necessarily saying much, a new report shows.
Read news release or download 2-page PDF 12/14/11

Budget-Cut Fever Threatens Secure Nutrition Network

Twelve percent of Iowa households have been challenged to put adequate food on the table at some point in the year.
Read report 18-page PDF 11/22/11
Read executive summary or download 5-page PDF
Read news release

"What we can see is that all of these efforts, public and private, are critical to helping all Americans meet food needs" — IPP's Andrew Cannon

More Iowans Uninsured, Poverty Rate Up, Median Income Down
A greater share of Iowans were uninsured, with poverty up and median household income down in 2010 from the 2008 recession year, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau. The data released Thursday showed Iowa to have an uninsured rate of 9.3 percent in 2010, up from 8.7 percent in 2008, which was when the 2007 recession started showing its Iowa effects in job declines.
Read news release 2-page PDF 9/22/11

"At least 1 in 11 Iowans were without insurance in 2010. This presents policy makers with important information at a time some are talking about cuts in Medicaid and Medicare. Even without cuts, more people lack coverage." — IPP's Noga O'Connor

Iowa Children in Focus
Keeping Iowa Children in Focus
Budget Choices in Congress: Holding Back Head Start

In addition to providing low-income children with quality preschool, Head Start/Early Head Start means jobs in Iowa. Congress is considering major budget cuts.
See the IPP backgrounder or download 2-page PDF. 3/31/11

Preschool and Its Importance to Middle-Income Families

It's a mistake to believe all middle-income families can afford preschool on their own, as proposals in the Iowa Statehouse assume.
IPP policy brief or 4-page PDF. Also news release. 3/3/11

The Price of Preschool and the Cost of Losing It
IPP policy brief or 4-page PDF. Also news release. 2/24/11

Congress' Decision on Child Care Block Grant to Affect Thousands of Iowans

See the IPP backgrounder or download 2-page PDF. 2/15/11

Economic Opportunity: Health Access and Work Supports
A Fair Exchange? Middleman or a Mouse Click is Choice for Lawmakers

Should Iowa require residents to find insurance through a broker, or online at their convenience, as federal health reform law intends?
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder or download 2-page PDF file 3/3/11
What is an "exchange" anyway? backgrounder or download 2-page PDF file 2/17/11

Issues to Watch in Setting Up Health Exchanges

Though the federal health reform law remains a lightning rod, making sure that Iowans have access to adequate health care is something most Iowans can agree on. The Affordable Care Act contains provisions that have the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of Iowans. Health Benefits Exchanges are the central feature of the act.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership policy brief or download 7-page PDF file 12/21/10

Watch Out for Those Cliffs, Iowans
Making Work Pay: Policies to Help Struggling Families

While economic challenges are immense, some policy options could make a real difference to help families respond, and to build longer-term prosperity and security.
Read IPP Backgrounder or download 5-page PDF 2/8/11

Making Work Pay and Making Ends Meet

If improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit expire at the end of the year, fewer dollars would pass through to the lowest-earning workers and there would be greater need for public assistance for their families.
Read backgrounder or download 2-page PDF 11/22/10

How could it be that 1 in 9 Iowa households had trouble putting food on the table in 2007-09?
Read news release or download 2-page PDF 11/16/10

Iowa Economy: Unemployment Insurance? It's About Jobs

Repercussions for the Iowa economy — and not just the currently unemployed — hang in the balance as Congress decides whether to maintain unemployment insurance.
Read backgrounder 1-page PDF 11/16/10

Economic Opportunity — Cost of Living in Iowa
IPP Analysis: Basic Needs Budgets in Each County

Wage data show many Iowans are unable to meet a carefully determined standard for what it takes to support their families. As wages stagnate and even decrease during this recession, Iowa needs to maintain or expand work supports, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Care Assistance and public health insurance.
Full report 53-page PDF including county-by-county tables 1/26/10
Backgrounder HTML or 2-page PDF

Economic Opportunity — Iowa and Health Care Reform
Discount Plans: Not Your Father's Health Insurance

Discount medical plans emerging in an increasingly expensive and confusing health-care market are creating a "legion of problems," according to an Iowa researcher who examined the sprawling and unevenly regulated industry. "In some cases, states are stepping in to protect consumers," says Colin Gordon.
Download full report or read 1-page executive summary 12/16/10

A Milestone in Health Reform

Provisions that took effect Sept. 23 marked a milestone for health reform in the Affordable Care Act passed last spring. Thousands of Iowans will benefit.
Read policy brief or download 4-page PDF 9/22/10
News release
"Iowans won't have to postpone preventive care for financial reasons, or worry about expensive care causing them to exhaust their lifetime insurance benefits. And young adults and children will have better prospects to keep insurance."
— IPP's Andrew Cannon

Covering Iowa Children Better

Increasing numbers of children and their families in every county in Iowa are benefiting from new public health insurance initiatives.
Read backgrounder or download 2-page PDF 7/27/10
Read news release. View map.

Right Balance for Small Business in Health Reform

Over 50,000 Iowa small businesses and their employees could get or keep health insurance now with opportunities in the new health reform law.
Read the Iowa Fiscal Partnership policy brief or download 3-page PDF 7/22/10
News release 2-page PDF

Options for Iowa: Opportunity to Reach More with High-Risk Pool

Proposed tax-credit reform legislation in the Iowa Legislature falls well short of its stated goals for better accountability and savings for Iowa taxpayers.
IPP Policy Brief, HTML, PDF (3 pages) or News Release PDF (1 page) 4/29/10

Congressional Package Carries Iowa Benefits

Hundreds of thousands of Iowans will find their health care situation drastically improved, thanks to the passage and enactment of health reform.
IPP Policy Brief, HTML or PDF (4 pages) 3/24/10

Fighting 'Job-lock' for Entrepreneurs

Health reform will remove a barrier to entrepreneurship in Iowa.
IPP Policy Snapshot, 3 pages PDF 3/17/10
See more IPP Policy Snapshots on health care reform by IPP's Andrew Cannon:
Health Coverage in Rural Iowa, 2 pages PDF 11/6/09
Leveling Field for Small Business, 2 pages PDF 8/6/09
Making Health Care Affordable, 2 pages PDF 8/6/09

Health Insurance Lacking for Iowans
Latest Census Data: Over 1 in 11 Iowans Go Without Coverage

Iowa's health-insurance shortage is worse in the latter part of this decade than it was at the start — 9.4 percent of Iowans went without coverage in 2007-08.
News release PDF, 2 pg 9/10/09

Health Insurance Exchanges, Mandates and Paying for Reform

In Iowa and elsewhere, demagoguery and emotion have obscured fact-based discussion of the health reform proposals in Congress. These new IPP backgrounders are designed to help a more productive discussion.
Health Insurance Exchanges (PDF, 3 pg). 8/13/09
Play or Pay — the Role of Mandates (PDF, 2 pg). 8/13/09
Paying for Health Reform (PDF, 2 pg). 8/13/09

Economic Opportunity — Waiting for Recovery
Census: 1 in 9 Iowans in Poverty, Income Down, Health Shortage Persistent

The national recession hit home in Iowa in 2009, dropping incomes and throwing a greater share of Iowa families into poverty.
News Release 9/28/10
News Release on separate Census survey (2 page PDF) 9/16/10

State of Working Iowa cover The State of Working Iowa: Recession Effects Remain

Iowa working families face a better job market than found in many states, but the state's economy is still struggling and far from its pre-recession performance.
Full Report (10 page PDF) 9/5/10
News release HTML 9/5/10
Previous issues in our State of Working Iowa series

Providing a Healthier Labor Market for Iowa
Medicaid Expansions: Opportunity for Making Work Pay and Work Choices

Increasing health-coverage access by expanding Medicaid eligibility can expand workers’ options for employment while improving income and long-term economic opportunity for low-income families.
Full report (PDF, 23 pg) 6/10/09
Executive summary (PDF, 4 pg)
News release (PDF, 1 pg) HTML

Unemployment Benefits Help Jobless — and the Economy

Without an extension of unemployment benefits for long-term unemployed, Iowans would see a delayed economic recovery, while workers long unemployed through no fault of their own need help.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder 6/25/10

Thousands Hurt if Child Credit Gains are Cut Table on ARRA impacts at different income eligibility

More than 48,500 of Iowa’s low- to middle-income families would lose some or all of their Child Tax Credit if Congress does not extend improvements made in the 2009 Recovery Act.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder or PDF (2 pages) 6/14/10
IFP reports on Iowa impacts of ARRA

Education Pays in Iowa
Workforce Education Smart Investment for Iowans

No matter the indicator — unemployment rates, wages or poverty — it is undeniable that education pays for Iowans. A projected shortage of skilled labor combined with the rising cost to families for postsecondary education demands that Iowa invest in workforce education to address our state’s education gap.
Backgrounder PDF, 2 pgs 11/5/09
Testimony of Lily French to Job Training Needs Study Committee PDF, 1 pg 11/3/09
Link to all testimony for Job Training Needs Study Committee 11/3/09

The State's Return on Investment in Workforce Education
Iowa could boost its economy and budget, help low-income workers and better prepare for the future if the state were to invest more in workforce education. 5/28/09
Full report (PDF, 31 pg)
Executive summary (PDF, 4 pg)
News release (PDF, 2 pg)
Another Smart Investment in Tough Times: Expanding Access to Child Care
Strengthening Iowa Program Promises Returns to Treasury, Economy, Families NEW!

Iowa can take steps to expand child care assistance to more working families and assure both quality care and long-lasting returns to the state. Full Report (35 pg), executive summary (5 pg), news release. (PDFs) 3/25/09
Backgrounder on quality, regulation issues. (PDF, 2pg) 4/14/09

Economic Opportunity — Economic Development Policy
Strategies for Iowa — How Would Values Fund Changes Work?
Simpler Process and Some Benefits, But Lower Wages Could Qualify for Subsidies

Proposed changes in requirements for companies to qualify for subsidies appear to carry mixed results. The now-complicated system would be more simple to understand, and changes could result in a slight increase in actual wages in projects. But targeting the plan to boost manufacturing in urban areas may be difficult. Full Report (14 pg). (PDF) 3/31/09

Economic Opportunity
Making Work Pay — Examining Work Supports in Iowa
Report Shows What's Needed to Help Low-Income Iowans Get By

A new report from the National Center for Children in Poverty analyzes the effectiveness of Iowa’s “work supports” – such as earned income tax credits, public health insurance, and child care assistance. Work supports can close the gap between low earnings and basic expenses, but working more does not always pay as families lose eligibility for critical supports. Full report, news release from NCCP. 10/7/08

Uninsurance Problem Persists in Iowa
New Census Data Show Poverty Remains High, Slight Income Gain

Uninsurance in Iowa grew by one-third in seven years, while Iowans' median income improved slightly in 2007 and poverty remained high. News release 8/26/08

Pulling Apart
Income Gap Between Richest, Poorest Families Grows in Iowa, U.S.
A new study reports growing income inequality in Iowa as the richest fifth of families make more than six times the income, on average, of the poorest fifth. The gap has grown in the last two decades according to a new national study from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Read the press release and Iowa fact sheet, and the full report. 4/9/08
Watch Your Step, Working Families
New Tool Helps to Map 'Cliff Effects' for Iowa Families

Working families could benefit if policy makers and advocates use a new tool to analyze policy impacts on family budgets. The nonpartisan Iowa Fiscal Partnership announced the new Iowa Family Resource Simulator in partnership with the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University. Read the news release. 4/2/08

The Cost of Living in Iowa
Report Puts Real Numbers to Basic Needs for Iowa Families

More than half of Iowa jobs pay less than what is needed for a single parent with one child to provide for the family. A new IPP report examines both cost and income issues facing Iowa families of different sizes, county by county. "Our findings suggest that many hard-working Iowa families must go without, or go into debt, due to low wages," said researcher Beth Pearson. Read the full report, backgrounder and news release. 1/18/08

Dec. 31, 2007
Minimum Wage Increase a Bright Spot for 2008
Buck Boost Bucks Most 2007 Trends for Iowa's Low-Income Families

Iowa is ahead of the curve on policy for low-income families with its new $7.25 minimum wage. With poverty up, health coverage stagnant and income lagging the region, the wage boost could help families to make ends meet and help Iowa to make work pay. Read the news release.

Some tired arguments persist against Iowa's minimum-wage increase, almost a year after its approval — even though it was held down for a decade as other costs to both businesses and consumers grew. In fact, it helps low-income Iowans to purchase goods and services from the very busineses that complain the most. See the stories in the Burlington Hawk-Eye and Dubuque Telegraph-Herald.

Nov. 1, 2007
Iowans' Health Insurance: Falling Through the Cracks
Iowa Families and the Uncertain Future of Job-Based Insurance
From 2000 to 2006, 88,000 Iowans under the age of 65 fell from job-based health coverage either into the safety net of public programs, or right through that safety net into the ranks of the uninsured. Read our backgrounder.

High Stakes for Iowa Kids as SCHIP, hawk-i Future Debated in Washington

Tens of thousands of Iowa children have a stake in the wrangling in Washington over bipartisan efforts to the 10-year-old State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The compromise package vetoed by President Bush would reach more kids in low- to moderate-income working families who otherwise would not have insurance. SCHIP now reaches 37,000 Iowa children, a figure that would grow significantly under the legislation. Read the backgrounder on SCHIP facts and our guest opinion in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

. More SCHIP resources from the Iowa Fiscal Partnership: a news release that addresses inaccurate claims about access for undocumented immigrants, and a one-page backgrounder and news release about what's at stake for Iowa. A two-page backgrounder shows how SCHIP successfully reaches uninsured children in working families. Also see KGAN-TV's interview with IPP's Mike Owen.

. More about the health-insurance shortage: Iowans at middle and lower incomes showed slippage in 2006 with a drop in income, a rise in poverty and a lingering rate of uninsurance. Read the news release.

August 28, 2007
Squeezing Iowa in the Middle
Median Income Down, Poverty Up - Health Insurance Shortage Lingers
Iowans at middle and lower incomes showed slippage in 2006 with a drop in income, a rise in poverty and a lingering rate of uninsurance. "There is not much comfort in these new numbers," says the IPP's David Osterberg. Read the Press Release.
June 26, 2007
Bridging the Gaps in Iowa
Report Examines Gaps Between Income and Needs for Working families
Thousands of low-wage workers in Iowa are not receiving work supports intended to help bridge the gap between earnings and basic family needs. Read the Press Release, Full Report, and Summary of Eligibility Rules.
May 3, 2007
Study Backs Moves on Preschool Access
Signals New Iowa Initiative is Step Forward
New research published by the Economic Policy Institute shows the kinds of benefits the state can expect from its investments in early childhood education. Read the Press Release.
March 31, 2007
New Iowa Minimum Wage Takes Effect
Workers Receive Pay Increase Sunday; Other Policies Also Could Help
On Sunday, Iowa becomes the 29th state with a state minimum wage higher than the federal level. Read the Press Release.
January 15, 2007
Raising and Indexing Iowa's Minimum Wage
This November, six more states voted to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation. A total of 28 states now have a minimum wage higher than the federal level. Iowa is NOT one of them. Read this January Backgrounder, and the November Update to our Full Report from July 2006.
September 28, 2006
Nonstandard Jobs, Substandard Benefits: A 2005 Update
One-quarter of the U.S. workforce has a nonstandard job and only 21 percent of those workers have health insurance from their job. Since 2001, the percentage of nonstandard workers without health insurance has increased by 4 percentage points to 28 percent. Read the Full Report.
August 29, 2006
Poverty on the Rise in Iowa
New Census Report Shows Median Income, Health Coverage at 2000-01 Levels
Poverty keeps climbing in Iowa while health insurance coverage and household income show no improvement since the start of the decade. Read the Press Release and the Health Insurance Fact Sheet.
July 19, 2006
A Pay Raise for Iowa?
Workers Falling Behind at the Minimum Wage
A minimum wage increase would benefit tens of thousands of working Iowans, the majority over age 20 and most of them female. Low-wage Iowans have been left behind as twenty-two other states -- home to more than half of the U.S. population -- have increased the minimum wage above the federal (and Iowa) level of $5.15. Read the Full Report and Press Release. Read more about the Methodology.
June 30, 2006
Mental Health and Homelessness in Iowa
This is our second report completed for the Iowa Council on Homelessness based on data collected during the 2005 Iowa Statewide Homeless Study. In this report, we present a more detailed picture of mental health and homelessness in Iowa. Read the Report.
March 1, 2006 (Updated April 20, 2006)
Iowa's Minimum Wage: What's at Stake
Three of Iowa's Neighbors Have Higher Minimum Wage
Twenty states, home to more than half the U.S. population, have already raised the minimum wage. If the minimum wage was raised to $7.25 per hour, about 257,000 Iowans, or 18 percent of all workers, would receive a pay raise. Read the Backgrounder.
January 12, 2006
2005 Iowa Statewide Homeless Study
Just over 21,000 Iowans were homeless during 2005, an increase of 2,688 people since 1999. Families with children now make up the majority of all homeless households in Iowa. Read the Full Report. See the Survey Materials.
December 1 , 2005
Nonstandard Jobs, Substandard Benefits
Study Suggests Official Figures Overstate Health Coverage
More and more Americans are in temporary, contract, and part-time jobs without health insurance. Many of these workers have a medical discount card instead of health insurance. As a result, the number of uninsured Americans may be greater than the commonly reported figure of 46 million. Read the Press Release and the Full Report.
October 19, 2005
IowaCare: Need for Caution
A new program brokered by Iowa leaders to save health-care services may actually create problems for the low-income Iowans it seeks to serve. IowaCare does not necessarily deliver on its promise of expanding access to health care. Read the Full Report and Press Release.
August 30, 2005
Stagnant Signs for Iowa Household Budgets
Key factors of Iowans’ household financial security have stagnated and do not show signs of recovery to pre-2000 levels. Read the Press Release. Read the Health Insurance Fact Sheet.
June 6, 2005
Hunger in the Heartland: A Portrait of Need in Northeast Iowa
One in 11 Iowans is “food insecure,” creating a demand for food assistance that government alone does not meet. There will be new challenges for nonprofit organizations if Congress cuts federal help. Read the Full Report and Press Release.
May 19, 2005
Combating Hunger
Hunger is a major problem in America. These fact sheets introduce basic statistics and outline the major ways that both government and nonprofit food assistance is provided to hungry families.
Sheet 1: Understanding Food Aid in the U.S. And Iowa
Sheet 2: A Portrait of Hunger in Iowa
Sheet 3: Who Receives Food Assistance?
Sheet 4: Effectiveness of Public, Private Food Assistance
March 7, 2005
Social Security Saves Iowans from Poverty
Almost 1 in 5 Iowans receives benefits from Social Security. Without Social Security, more than half of Iowa’s seniors would be in poverty. Read the Fact Sheet and Press Release.
December 1, 2004
Project Labor Agreements in Iowa: An Important Tool

Despite the political firestorm that ensues when Iowa public officials talk about "project labor agreements" in the public sector, the evidence shows they work — and are a valued tool for both private-sector and public-sector construction. Our 2004 report remains the research standard on this topic in Iowa, and shoots factual holes through emotion-tinged arguments following Governor Culver's order for their use on state projects.
IPP report on PLAs (PDF)
Executive summary (PDF)
Frequently Asked Questions

October 12, 2004
Working Families Getting Squeezed in Iowa
One in four working families in Iowa is low-income, earning less than $36,784 for a family of four. To make matters worse, low-income Iowans pay a larger share of their income in state and local taxes than the wealthiest Iowans. Read the Press Release.
September 1, 2004
Special Challenges for Special Session
Iowa legislators need to keep job quality and fiscal responsibility in mind next week when they return for a special session to restore the Grow Iowa Values Fund. Read the Press Release.
August 26, 2004
Health Care Coverage Falling Off for Iowans
One in ten Iowans are now uninsured, a 2 percentage point increase over the last few years. The percentage of Iowans with employment-based health insurance also dropped 1.9 percentage points, suggesting that this is the primary cause for the increase in uninsured Iowans. Read the Press Release.
August 26, 2004
Poverty Up, Income Down in Iowa
Median household income has fallen while poverty and the number of uninsured are on the rise in Iowa. Read the Press Release.
July 8, 2004
Bending the Rules: The Promise and Practice of the Grow Iowa Values Fund
Rules to implement the Grow Iowa Values Fund need to be strengthened to assure the fund's promise of good jobs at good wages. Read the Full Report and Press Release.
May 17, 2004
Fresh Look at Minimum Wage Needed
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI)  released two reports that show an increase in the minimum wage does not result in job losses and would give a pay raise to more than 100,000 working Iowans. Read the Press Release.
May 12, 2004
New Jobs Not Measuring Up
Jobs in Iowa's high-growth industries not only pay less than jobs in shrinking industries, but they also are less likely to provide health-care benefits, according to a new report. Read the Press Release.
February 16, 2004
Iowa Self-Sufficiency Wages
Incomes for one in five Iowa families do not meet basic costs of running a household. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary, and Full Report.
September 25, 2003
Putting Real Value in the Values Fund
The Grow Iowa Values Fund presents an opportunity for the state to commit its economic development efforts toward high-wage jobs - but it will take more than what's in place now, Colin Gordon told the Grow Iowa Values Board. Read the Presentation Handout.
September 1, 2002
Working Iowans not Seeing Economic Recovery
Iowa workers are still hurting from the recent economic downturn. Read the Press Release.
September 1, 2002
State of Working America: Signs of Recovery are Weak
The Economic Policy Institute finds little evidence that the national recession is nearing an end. Read the Press Release and EPI's News Release.
April 23, 2002
Income Gap Grows in Iowa
Income inequality increased has increased during the1990's. Read the Press Release. View the chart 'Pulling Apart Iowa' or the table 'Pulling Apart Iowa'.
March 12, 2002
Out of Work, Out of Luck
Not all state unemployment insurance systems are created equal, according to this report. Read the Press ReleaseMap of States and State by State Report Card