Economic Opportunity and Family Prosperity

capitolStrengthening pathways
to the middle class in Iowa

Latest Cost of Living in Iowa analysis
details opportunities in work supports

Nearly 100,000 Iowa working households earn too little for a basic standard of living without public supports beyond health insurance. How can public policy be improved to help them not only get by, but to reach higher?
Cost of Living in Iowa Part 3:
Strengthening Pathways to the Middle Class

News release 9/12/18

Iowa working families strugglecapitol
Cost of Living in Iowa
Part 1: Basic Needs Budgets

Part 2: Struggle for Thousands
Map to county-by-county tables
News release

capitolOn our blog: Evaluating UI’s
attack on its own Labor Center
Jewels like the University of Iowa Labor Center demonstrate a commitment to the mission of a flagship public institution.
Post by Colin Gordon, UI professor and IPP senior research consultant

Hit “reset” on center closings.
Post by Elizabeth Heineman, chair of the UI history department

Will the leadership of the University of Iowa ever fight back against powerful and greedy forces that have undermined it?
Post by Mike Owen, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project

capitolGiving Iowa workers
the cold shoulder

Changes in workers’ compensation
mean big reductions of benefits

A review of shoulder injury cases from 2017 provides a startling glimpse into the impact of changes to Iowa’s workers’ compensation system, indicating that workers who suffer serious shoulder injuries will on average lose out on $72,000 in compensation under the new law.
Full report 9/20/18
Executive summary
News release or PDF (2p)

capitolAn opportunity to boost
family economic security

New Census data on poverty,
income and health insurance
demonstrate need for good policy

Even slight improvements in poverty and health coverage for Iowans heighten the need to reinforce public policies that can help families struggling to get by. One in nine Iowans lack basic economic security, the Census shows.
News release 9/13/18

capitolIowa needs a raise
Our latest State of Working Iowa report shows that over nearly four decades, wage growth is essentially flat for all but the highest-wage workers in Iowa.
State of Working Iowa
Wages Update
or 11-page PDF
News release (4-page PDF)

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