An Iowa State University report on Census data shows Iowa’s poverty levels have gone up in the last 10 years. Professor David Peters says Iowa has traditionally had low poverty levels.
Peters says over the last 40 years Iowa’s poverty level has declined for most of Iowa, but from 1999 to 2009, the poverty rate grew “quite fast” in Iowa, more than the rest of the United States. Iowa’s poverty rate went from 9.13% to 11.37 %.
Peters is an associate professor of sociology, and says Iowa’s seen a shift in the location of poverty. He says the poverty rates in the more urban areas of the state have risen in the last 10 years while the rates in rural Iowa have dropped “quite markedly.”
Peters says rural Iowa economies are much stronger and poverty rates are much lower, while in urban Iowa, economies have taken a bigger hit and poverty rates have increased. Peters says 40 years ago Polk County, for instance, had a poverty rate of 8.64%, while rural Iowa had a rate of 14.14%.
Since then the poverty rate has increased in Polk County to 9.41%, while rural areas have dropped to 10.55%. Peters says part of the reason for the shift is the move of more people to the urban areas.
Peters says people are moving to the bigger metropolitan areas for more access to jobs and also more access to social services, so there’s been some shifting. Some smaller towns have bucked the state trend of increased poverty. Pella is one. He says Pella has grown in population because of the availability of jobs and also because if its quality of life.
Counties that saw a decrease in poverty in the past 10 years are: Adams, Cherokee, Clay, Davis, Guthrie, Keokuk, Kossuth, Lyon, Mitchell, Page, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Sioux, Tama, Taylor and Wayne. For Peters’ entire report, go to: www.soc.iastate.edu.