- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Households in one of eastern Iowa’s most populous counties have weathered the rough economy better than their counterparts in a neighboring Illinois county.

Median household incomes in Scott County, Iowa, have remained about the same since 2007 when adjusted for inflation, according to the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/1Rw0Ocl ). The county’s median household income in 2014 was nearly $55,000.

But in Rock Island County, Illinois, median household incomes dropped 7 percent to a little more than $48,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

The figures come from the Census Bureau’s Small Income and Poverty Estimates report, which measures year-to-year changes in each of the nation’s 3,141 counties.

During visits to the Quad Cities, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner frequently points to the Iowa side of the Mississippi River while pitching for reforms for his state’s budget and economic policies.

But the figures released a couple of weeks ago boil it down to the household level.

Across the country, about a quarter of U.S. counties - 834 of them - saw a statistically significant decline in median household income since 2007. Rock Island County was one of them. In fact, 29 of Illinois’ 102 counties had such declines.

In Iowa, only three counties saw statistically significant drops. And eight saw statistically significant increases, nearly all of them in rural areas, where farm incomes were broadly higher over that time.

There could be several explanations for the differences in how household incomes have changed in the Quad-Cities.

The movement of people from one area to another plays a role. Since 2007, the people moving out of Rock Island County have, year-to-year, had higher average incomes than those moving in, according to federal tax data. In Scott County, the record has been more mixed.

There are differences in the job market, too. In October, the unemployment rate in Scott County was 4.4 percent. In Rock Island County, it was 2.5 points higher.

Stephanie Smith of Moline can testify to the stubbornness of the job market. Laid off when the Quad-City Downs racetrack closed, she has spent many of her days with a job placement organization in downtown Rock Island. Only recently has she found a job in Iowa.

“It’s been very hard over the last 11 months,” she said.


Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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