A new report indicates that the gap between the richest and poorest families in Iowa, and most other states, has grown significantly over the past two decades. Two Washington, D.C. based groups — the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) — released the findings during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
EPI’s Jared Bernstein says, "The report’s bottom line is that since the late 1980s, income gaps widened in 37 states and did not narrow in any state," Bernstein said. "In fact, we found that the trend toward growing inequality has accelerated during this decade."
Elizabeth McNichol, with CBPP, says the gains for wealthy Iowans outpaced gains for poor families from the late 1980s to mid-2000s. She says, in Iowa, the incomes of the richest fifth of families grew by nearly 50 percent, while the poorest fifth of families grew by just 14 percent. The report claims the richest 20 percent of families in Iowa have average incomes 6.1 times as large as the poorest 20 percent of families.
That gap between Iowa’s rich and pool families, the researchers say, is the 39th largest in the nation. McNichol says policies in most states do not support low income families. She’s hoping this report will spur change.
"For example, many states provide child care subsidies for low wage workers. In 2005, families with incomes below the poverty line spent almost a third of their income on child care. Without child care subsidies, many low income workers will not likely get quality child care while they work," McNichol said.