An Iowa State University study shows one in five Iowa families do not make enough money to meet the basic costs of running their home. ISU sociology professor Jan Flora says the people in the survey were above the poverty level. He says they estimated that in 2002 between 114,000 and 166,000 families has incomes that were not adequate to cover their basic work-related and household-related expenses. Flora says the survey looked at only the basic expenses, and didn’t include things such as savings, entertainment or other “extras.” It includes things like food, housing, childcare, and telephone service without long-distance. Flora says the gap in what a family earns and what it needs to survive depends on its size. He says a family that has two adults working 40 hours a week needs to make a wage of $7.50 an hour — which is $2.35 above minimum wage. He says the money a family needs would change depending on the number of children. Flora says raising the minimum wage is one of the suggestions for helping these families and it could be done without losing jobs. He says most people in minimum wage jobs are in the service sector, and raising the minimum wage wouldn’t lead that kind of company to leave town. Flora says another suggestion is making child care more affordable. He says childcare is a “pretty interesting phenomenon” as he says childcare workers aren’t paid very much and are part of the group who doesn’t have an adequate wage. He says that means there should probably be more subsidies for childcare, as there are for people below the poverty level. Flora says the state could also make the Iowa Earned Income Tax Credit refundable meaning Iowans who have no income-tax liability but pay a disproportionate share of their income in sales taxes because they spend virtually everything they earn, would get a tax refund. You can see the whole report at: www.iowapolicyproject.org.
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