Spiking unemployment claims in Iowa and U.S.
Nearly 100,000 new Iowa claims
The numbers are staggering for new unemployment claims with the COVID-19 pandemic, not just for their scope but for their suddenness. The spike in numbers in just two weeks also provide a near real-time measure that the next monthly jobs report will largely miss.
See Colin Gordon's analysis of the latest jobless claim numbers

Foundation of Iowa jobs
was weak before crisis
Incomplete job recovery before COVID job losses
Iowa payroll jobs dropped for the fourth straight month in February, showing the job situation in Iowa was troubled even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
See Iowa JobWatch

Also see Colin Gordon's look at long-term solutions to be found in COVID response

A critical time for action in Iowa
COVID threat spreads; state policy response is needed to augment federal actions; good start on jobless benefits
Responsible actions at the federal level require a state response as well.
See Iowa Policy Points post by David Osterberg

Unemployment insurance
State actions on unemployment insurance are welcome news. The four-week break in the legislative session is a good opportunity to look for other ways to strengthen the system to protect working families.
See Iowa Policy Points post by Peter Fisher

Medicaid and SNAP
The current health emergency is an opportunity to bolster both Medicaid and SNAP (Food Stamps) to make sure they operate as intended, mitigating the impact on Iowans while our state and local leaders do what they can to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
See Iowa Policy Points post by Natalie Veldhouse

State fiscal relief — a lesson from the Recovery Act
The 2009 Recovery Act offered a good example of how state fiscal relief, in addition to the temporary boost in Medicaid funding, can aid in recovery from economic problems caused by the current health emergency in the United States.
See Iowa Policy Points post — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Many issues remain in background of the COVID-19 crisis

School-aid deal still leaves schools short
Decade average is below new 2.3 percent deal
and behind average for previous 10 years

To put the House-Senate agreement on school aid in perspective, take a step back for a better view. It's not a pretty picture for Iowa public K-12 schools.

See Iowa Policy Points post by Mike Owen

Ernst & Young biz tax rankings
Breaking trust
with the trust

Governor Reynolds’ tax plan
breaks free of voters’ intent

Iowa voters should be getting more than Governor Kim Reynolds is proposing for purposes they expected in approving a constitutional amendment in 2010 to improve outdoor recreation and water quality.

Full report (4-pg) Feb. 14, 2020
News release (2-pg)
Backgrounder (2-pg PDF)

Peter Fisher's guest opinion in the Des Moines Register
David Osterberg's guest opinion in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

How to keep clean water and revenue equity together as priorities
Full report
News Release

Iowans working hard, falling short

Cost of Living in Iowa update shows how ‘cliffs’
in work supports send families over the edge

“Work support” policies help low-wage working families survive, keep children out of poverty, and provide a path to better education and better jobs. Before the current pandemic, nearly 120,000 Iowa working households did not earn enough to meet basic needs. Single parents face greater challenges than married parents, and Iowans of color face greater challenges than white families.

Strengthening Pathways to the Middle Class:
The Role of Work Supports
Jan. 8, 2020
Backgrounder, 2 pages
News release

The Cost of Living in Iowa 2019 Sept. 24, 2019
Backgrounder, 2 pages
News release

Race in the Heartland
Equity, opportunity, policy challenges
in Iowa and Midwestern states

A half-century removed from the high-tide of the civil rights movement, progress on racial equity has slowed or stalled on many fronts. Nowhere is this more starkly evident than in the 12 states of the Midwest region, where racial disparities in economic opportunity and economic outcomes are wider than they are in other regions, and policy interventions designed to close those gaps are meager.

Full report by Colin Gordon Oct. 10, 2019
News release or PDF