As they do year after year, the folks over at Iowa Policy Project have put together a well researched paper concerning the state of work in Iowa at the end of each year. They have been doing this end of year report since 2001. This year as in the past, IPP puts together the facts and offer common sense solutions which are quite practical and doable.
But the powers that be in the state will probably not pay any attention to IPP’s analysis or suggestions. Instead i think we can look forward to another couple years of the House trying to push through ALEC solutions to problems that don’t exist. I also expect Governor Branstad to try to do what he can to give tax breaks to the wealthy and apply whatever brakes he can to public unions. He is after all, a founding member of ALEC, but has been surpassed in the pursuit of ALEC goals by the likes of Walker of Wisconsin and Snyder in Michigan and Scott in Florida.
I recommend that if you are truly interested in a solid research and solutions you read IPP weekly. But the end of the year report is a must for anyone who wants to get a good grasp on where Iowa is at the start of the legislature.
Among the key findings:
• Iowa’s current recovery is slower than that following other recessions; at recent slow-growth trends, it will still take about a year and a half to reach pre-recession job levels.
• Underemployment has remained up throughout recovery, illustrating a greater severity of damage from recession than typical unemployment data, which miss those discouraged enough to leave the work force, and those working part-time jobs below their skill level and desire for full-time work.
• Across the last generation, and especially across the last two business cycles, we have seen a steady loss of good jobs in Iowa. The steepest losses since 2007 have been in higher-wage sectors such as manufacturing and construction.
• Iowa’s median wage in 2011 remained below the U.S. average for both men and women, and ranked Iowa in the bottom tier among nine states in the region.
• Over a quarter of Iowa workers toil for less than $10.73/hour, the wage needed to lift a full-time worker to the poverty threshold for a family of four.
A tip of the hat to author Colin Gordon on an excellent report.