It’s becoming more common for children to live in poverty in Iowa. Census figures show, over the last 40 years, child poverty in the state has been increasing faster than the national average. David Peters, a sociology professor at Iowa State University, says child poverty stayed about the same in rural areas and increased in metropolitan cities by 5%.
But, that wasn’t where the biggest jump was recorded. “It appears child poverty is particularly concentrated not in the states metro areas or the states rural areas, but in the smaller urbanized centers of the state,” Peters said. Child poverty rates have increased the most in cities with 20,000 to 50,000 people.
“In rural Iowa, the child poverty rate has essentially remained unchanged and in metropolitan Iowa we had about 5 percent growth. But in micropolitain Iowa, the child poverty rate has jumped by almost 6.5%, which is double the rate of growth in the United States,” Peters said.
Child poverty rates haven’t grown in Iowa’s rural areas like other Midwest states because of the large number of Iowans moving to larger cities or out of the state, according to Peters. Historically, Iowa has had a below average child poverty rate, but the state is now within 5% of reaching the national average.
The rural area with the highest child poverty rate is Van Buren County at 23%. Sioux City has the largest rate among metropolitan cities at 21% and the leader among mid-sized cities is Ottumwa at 20%.