Part two of the Iowa Policy Project’s look at costs Iowans are paying to live in the state released in April builds on part one’s findings — it’s not getting cheaper to live in Iowa.
Findings from part two, “Many Iowa Families Struggle to Meet Basic Needs,” found one in six Iowa households failed to earn enough to provide for a basic standard of living without public support.
“For single parents, the challenge is greater than it is for married couples with children,” the report states.
The purpose of part two is to show the percentage of Iowa working families who do not earn enough before taxes to meet a basic family budget without outside government help.
Part two’s report found the proportion of Iowa households that earned below the break-even level of income is high for single persons at 27.1 percent, lower for married couples without children at 5.2 percent and much higher for single-parent families at 59.1 percent, or nearly three in five. By region, central Iowa has a lower share and counties in the southern 1/3 of Iowa have a higher share of families — nearly 20 percent — below break-even and relying on government assistance.
The report looked at the “basic needs gap,” the difference between actual before-tax earnings and the break-even level of earnings needed to meet basic needs.
“Basic needs gap” found among all households in the state with income below the break-even level the average shortfall is $14,274 per year. For married couples with children the shortfall is $16,768 and for single parents it is $21,462.
Part two’s report found at least 100,000 Iowa households did not earn enough to cover basic family budgets.
The report’s authors for part two relied on the most recent three years of data from the American Community Survey released by the U.S. Bureau of Census.