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State Of The Union Includes Income Inequality

DES MOINES (IOWA NEWS SERVICE) -- President Obama gives his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, and part of the address is expected to focus on income inequality.

The gap between the richest Americans and the poorest is now greater than in any other industrialized country. Locally, according to Arlene McAtee, executive director of Mid-Iowa Community Action, it's becoming more common for those who are struggling financially to have jobs - but jobs that don't pay a living wage.

"And therefore, a lot of the people that we are seeing who are in poverty are the working families and families with young children," she said. "You know, the poverty rate for children in the state of Iowa is still very high. It's about 16.2 percent, and over the last few years, you've seen that child poverty rate rising."

In Tuesday night's address, the President is expected to lay out several goals, ranging from raising the minimum wage to extending unemployment benefits to making college more affordable.

Expanding opportunities for post-secondary education and job training, said McAtee, is one way to chip away at income inequality and poverty, but she explained it also requires an Iowa economy that is robust and vibrant.

"You can get a lot of education, but if there aren't good jobs in your community, if there are only so many chairs at the table, then you may not be able to stay there and have an income that is going to allow you to support your family beyond basic needs, and get to the point where you are able to live, you know, the American middle-class life."

The income inequality study is available at pubs.aeaweb.org.

Story courtesy: Iowa News Service, John Michaelson.
 
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