An economist with the Iowa Policy Project says new census data shows the standard of living in Iowa is declining. Census data released today shows the median income level for Iowans dropped by $548 in 2006, and the poverty rate moved up slightly. David Osterberg leads the Iowa Policy Project, and says those numbers are not good news.
Osterberg says, "I think we’re slipping, and that’s the short answer." The median income moved from $45,039 to $44,491. The poverty rate move up nine-tenths of a percent to 10.8 percent. Osterberg says the economy has been expanding since 2001 when we came out of a recession, "and yet that expansion seems to be very good for millionaires, but it doesn’t seem to be very good for people in the middle, the median income people, or for sure, the poor people."
Osterbeg says the change in the poverty rate is statistically not significant. But he says the bigger picture shows concern. He says when you compare Iowa to states around us, the state is "falling back into the pack." Osterberg says Iowa is better off than Missouri and South Dakota, but not as well off as Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska. Osterberg says seeing the rich get richer does little to help others improve their lives.
Osterberg says the rich are many, including Paris Hilton, and he says Hilton is probably not creating many new jobs for people. He says the rich invest in many places, including investment in China of American dollars that’s creating a boom there. Osterberg says one factor could improve things in the next year. Osterberg says Iowa may see its median income go up next year because the state raised the minimum wager.
Osterberg says the increase will impact a quarter of a million Iowans. Osterberg noted the new figures are in keeping with Iowa’s job climate, which has reflected a very slow recovery from the 2001 recession.