More Iowa families are living in poverty according to 2009 Census data released Tuesday. The new numbers show 1 in 9 Iowans were living in poverty last year as the median income level dropped by almost $900 from 2007. Andrew Cannon is a research associate for the Iowa Policy Project.

“We’re doing a bit better than a lot of our neighbor states with respect to our poverty rate and the number of Iowans who are uninsured, but our poverty rate is up significantly from 2007 levels,” Cannon said. The Census data shows Iowa has the 36th highest poverty rate in the country.

Iowa’s median income in 2009 was $48,044, which ranked 27th in the U.S. Cannon believes the report should spur state legislators to boost the Earned Income Tax Credit – which was last changed in 2007.

“We’ve done a number of studies on the Earned Income Tax Credit and how it lifts Iowans in poverty out of poverty,” Cannon said. “That’s something we’ve recommended and I’m sure we’ll recommend again.” There is a bit of good news for Iowa.

“Iowa has an extremely low rate of uninsured kids,” Cannon said. “That’s thanks to the actions of the legislature the last couple of years in expanding the HAWK-I program.” The HAWK-I program provides health care coverage to uninsured children of working parents.

Cannon says the legislature can also help Iowans living in poverty by expanding a child care assistance program.

See more on the Iowa Policy Project website.