IOWA CITY — A report on the state’s cost of living by the Iowa Policy Project says a single parent of two children would need to earn $46,000 annually to meet expenses.
Researcher Peter Fisher says the cost of a family budget is far outpacing the minimum wage thanks in part to rising costs for things like housing and health care. “Even a single person. Even for a young couple working full time, 40 hours a week, need more than – way more than the minimum wage of seven-twenty-five,” Fisher says.
Fisher says 1 in 5 Iowa families falls short of a livable income. And there’s a racial disparity within that number. Black and Hispanic families are more than twice as likely as white families to earn less than they need to get by. The $46,000 is more than double federal poverty guideline and researcher Natalie Veldhouse says that means federal support often ends for families long before they are self-sufficient.
“Because the federal poverty level is so outdated and the way it’s calculated isn’t really taking into account the rising cost of things like child care and transportation and housing,” according to Veldhouse. She says 63% of single parent households in Iowa fall short of a livable income compared to about 14% of couples with children.