Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

March 21, 2014

Cost to live increasing in Iowa

By Michael Schaffer Managing Editor
The Daily Iowegian

---- — A new 22-page report recently released confirms living in Iowa has been taking significantly more out of your pocketbook in the last few years.

“Working families and individuals in Iowa must earn substantially above the official poverty threshold — in some cases nearly three times the poverty level — to achieve a very basic standard of living in Iowa without the help of public work supports,” concludes the report’s authors, Peter S. Fisher and Lily French.

The report concludes a majority of jobs in Iowa do not pay families enough to achieve basic self-sufficiency.

Part one of the multi-part report was released in February by Iowa City-based The Iowa Policy Project: “The Cost of Living in Iowa, 2014 Edition: Part 1: Basic Family Budgets.” The first part reports on basic family budgets for different family types and geographic areas based on 2013 cost of living and state and federal income taxes.

Health care costs are based on insurance rates in effect for 2014 because of changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act.

The report looked at Iowa’s 99 counties and the cost for basic needs like child care, health care, rent, utilities and transportation.

In Appanoose County the monthly cost for child care for a single parent with one child is $476, with two children it is $770; for a married couple with both working with one child it is $476 and with two children it is $770.

In Appanoose County monthly health care expense without employer-sponsored insurance for a single adult is $310, for a single parent with one child it is $483, with two children it is $681, for a married couple with one child it is $794 and with two children it is $1,015.

In Appanoose County monthly rent and utilities for a single adult is $425, for a single parent with one child it is $579, with two children it is $734, married couple with one child is $579 and with two children it is $734.

In Appanoose County the monthly transportation expense for a single adult, for a single parent and for a married couple with one working is $633 and for a married couple with both working it is $949.

According to the report, residents in Appanoose County can expect to pay less in two categories as compared to Iowa’s other 98 counties.

A married couple both working with two children in Appanoose County will pay $770 per month for child care. According to the report, married couples both working with two children in 68 Iowa counties will pay more and 30 will pay less than Appanoose County.

A married couple both working with two children in Appanoose County need to earn $55,630 per year to satisfy budget needs. According to the report, married couples both working with two children in 60 Iowa counties need to earn more and 38 need to earn less than Appanoose County to satisfy budget needs.

In Appanoose County the total annual budget for basic needs for a single adult is $21,982, for a single parent with one child it is $34,448, for a single parent with two children it is $44,879, for a married couple with one working and with one child it is $35,393, for a married couple with one working and with two children it is $42,595, for a married couple with both working and with one child it is $44,899 and for a married couple with both working and with two children it is $55,630.

The report contends when a family has health insurance through an employer it saves them money compared to if they had to purchase health insurance on the private market place based on 2014 rates.

Single-parent families with health insurance through an employer with one child will save based on a state-wide average $176 per month in health care costs and $265 in health care costs for the same with two children as compared to not having an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

The same holds true for Iowa families with two working parents.

Two working parent families with health insurance through an employer with one child will save based on a state-wide average $360 per month in health care costs and $548 in health care costs for the same with two children as compared to not having an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

The report bunched counties into regions and compared the cost for transportation, child care, health care, yearly and hourly earnings, rent, utilities and the total budget needed to meet basic needs. The list is by region and includes West South Central, which includes Appanoose, Wayne, Lucas, Audubon, Guthrie, Adair, Adams, Union, Clarke, Taylor, Ringgold, Decatur and Monroe counties.

In the West South Central region, yearly before tax earnings needed for a single parent with one child is $40,646, with two children it is $54,284; for a married couple with two children and one parent works it is $50,571 and where both parents work it is $66,703.

The hourly wage needed to support a family for a single parent with one child is $20.32, with two children it is $27.14; for a married couple with two children and one parent works it is $25.29 and where both parents work it is $16.68.

The monthly child care expense for a single parent with one child is $481; with two children it is $802; for a married couple with both working with one child it is $481 and with two children it is $802.

The monthly health care expense without employer-sponsored insurance for a single adult is $324, for a single parent with one child it is $506, with two children it is $712, for a married couple with one child it is $830, with two children it is $1,062.

Monthly rent and utilities for a single adult is $420, for a single parent with one child it is $611, with two children it is $817, married couple with one child it is $611 and with two children it is $817.

The monthly transportation expense for a single adult, for a single parent and for a married couple with one working is $618 and for a married couple with both working it is $926.

The total annual basic needs budget for a single adult is $21,914, for a single parent with one child it is $34,983, for a single parent with two children it is $46,459, for a married couple with one working and with one child it is $36,033, for a married couple with one working and with two children it is $43,970, for a married couple with both working and with one child it is $45,515 and for a married couple with both working and with two children it is $57,304.

The numbers used for regions come from component county data weighted according to each county’s share of the total population of the region.

When talking about two parent families with one working full-time, the non-working parent is expected to be providing all of the child care.

For families with children, a one-child family has a 2-year-old toddler; a two-child family has a 2 year old and a 4 year old.

When determining housing and utility budgets the report estimated a single person living in a studio apartment, a couple in a one-bedroom apartment, a family with one child in a two-bedroom apartment and a family with two children in a three bedroom apartment.

Transportation expenses do not include recreational uses.

The report considers health insurance to be a basic need.

The Iowa Policy Project plans to release a second report that looks at the number of Iowa families that must rely on public assistance just to meet a basic budget level for many needs and how eligibility “ceilings” keep people from receiving public support.