Many Iowa Families Struggle to Meet Basic Needs
The Cost of Living in Iowa, Part 2

Thousands of Iowa families do not earn enough to provide for a basic standard of living without public supports, despite one or more wage earners in the family.
See this new report, or a printable 6-page PDF.
News release, or a printable 2-page PDF.
Blog post by IPP's Peter Fisher.
Interview with Fisher on KVFD's "Devine Intervention" program.
KIMT TV news story.

“No one discussing issues such as the minimum wage, and eligibility for child-care assistance, can reasonably ignore the economic realities facing these families.” — IPP's Peter Fisher

The Cost of Living in Iowa, Part 1 — For Many Families, Even the Median Wage Would Not Be Enough
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 NEW!

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

Read news release.

Cost of Living vs med wage
Getting Headlines, But Little Action — Wage Theft in Iowa

A hot topic at the Iowa Statehouse this year has been wage theft. What is the reality behind this issue in Iowa?
See our Wage Theft page, with links to our research.
Hear David Osterberg's interview on “The Devine Intervention,” KVFD-1400 AM in Fort Dodge. 3/27/14

“Wage theft ... is abetted by weak and poorly enforced labor laws at the state and federal level. ” — IPP report

Iowa JobWatch: Jobs Bump Up in February

A 3,900 increase in nonfarm jobs in February followed a significant 6,600 drop in January, as the unemployment rate also showed a slight bump to 4.4 percent.
Heather GibneyRead our Iowa JobWatch by Heather Gibney. 3/28/14. LATEST!

“If Iowa could string together several months of net job increases as we saw in February, the state’s economy would be on a more positive course.”

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. NEW!

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. NEW!
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.

Costly Off-Budget Spending on Research Tax Credits Comes with Little Oversight

The vast majority of Research Activities Credit claims are by corporations, rather than individuals; by big corporations, rather than entrepreneurs; and paid out as checks, rather than to reduce taxes. The cost in 2013: over $53 million.

Designed to support start-up companies to do research, Iowa's costly Research Activities Credit program primarily benefits very large companies, with little scrutiny, as money is spent under the cover of tax law and not the regular budget process.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder. 3/6/14. NEW!
Or 2-page PDF.

The state of Iowa spent $36.2 million on research subsidy checks to 140 companies that paid no state income tax in 2013. Iowa Fiscal Partnership analysis of a new state report shows the 12 largest recipients of the Research Activities Credit (RAC) shared at least $29.1 million in those checks.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership news release. 2/17/14.

For additional perspective, see our blog posts:

A taste of transparency, 2/11/14
Two numbers say so much, 3/6/14 NEW!

Iowa and Its Notoriously (?) Low Business Taxes

Not that you're likely to hear it in what has become common political talk, but Iowa — again — is shown to have taxes on business that are in the middle of the pack or below the national average.
Read Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder. 3/5/14. NEW!
Or 2-page PDF.

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 NEW!

Dealing with Climate Change: Bring Investor-Owned Utilities into Solution
Climate change is a reality and the investor-owned utility companies must adjust their business model to contend with it.
Read statement by IPP's David Osterberg to the Iowa Utilities Board. 2/25/14 NEW!
Read excerpt on our Iowa Policy Points blog. 2/25/14

The Rich Get Richer: Top Incomes in Iowa, U.S., in Context
top 1% income share graph

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. NEW!
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

Digging Deeper on Frac Sand Mining
Industry Presents Water, Tourism Issues in NE Iowa

Rapid growth of fracking — and thus frac sand mining — has sparked environmental and aesthetic concerns in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Northeast Iowa. What long-term issues lie beneath this prized sand, and what steps can Iowa communities take to be vigilant about what is best for them?
Aaron KlineRead our policy brief by Aaron Kline and David Osterberg. 1/30/14. NEW!
executive summary

news release
blog post by Aaron Kline

Hear Iowa Environmental Focus report by Jerry Schnoor of the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (1 minute, 17 seconds)
Public Pensions in Perspective
Why Foundations of Iowa, Many State Pension Systems are Strong

A stable and durable public pension system, efficiently managed and funded, is important to employees, employers, the state, and the economy.

Iowa‘s public pension systems are strong and healthy, working as intended to assure retirement security to thousands of Iowans.
Read policy brief by Imran Farooqi, Peter Fisher and David Osterberg. (33 pages) 12/12/13. NEW!
Read executive summary. (or 5-page PDF)
Read news release.

Read David Osterberg's guest opinion in the Cedar Rapids Gazette 12/15/16
Hear Osterberg on the Devine Intervention, KVFD-AM Fort Dodge 12/12/16

The State of Working Iowa: The Long, Slow Recovery

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“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