Dubuque Soaring in Upward Mobility

By Nevans-Pederson, mARY | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), July 27, 2013 | Go to article overview

Dubuque Soaring in Upward Mobility


Nevans-Pederson, mARY, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


Percent of children born in neighboring "commuting areas" who have a good chance to rise from poverty (from the lowest-fifth income level to the highest-fifth level): - Dubuque: 17.9 - Waterloo: 13.3 - Cedar Rapids: 12.6 - Decorah: 17.6 - Clinton: 14.5 - Rockford, Ill.: 7.6 - Madison, Wis.: 10.2 - Monroe, Wis.: 16Children born in Dubuque have a better chance of moving upward through income classes than those in the nation's biggest metro areas, according to a study released by researchers this week.

The survey by The Equality of Opportunity Project incorporated earnings filings from millions of Americans to assess people's likelihood of moving between income classes. It showed that in the Dubuque "commuting area," someone born in the lowest one-fifth income bracket has a 17.9 percent chance of rising to the highest one-fifth bracket. That percentage easily tops those of all of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, including Des Moines (11.1 percent), Chicago (6.1), Milwaukee (5.6) and Madison (10.2).

In fact, Dubuque placed in the top 60 of the country's 741 metro areas.

The report is the first to examine social mobility geographically and to compare regions throughout the United States based on residents' ability to shift from the income brackets into which they were born. Findings include less intergenerational mobility in urban areas with segregated poor and higher levels of social mobility in urban areas with more two-parent families, better school systems and more civic engagement (membership in community and religious groups).

Dubuque is a good place for someone who aspires to climb the economic ladder out of poverty, said Judi Simon, education specialist with Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates, a nonprofit organization that connects business and education to provide dropout prevention and school-to-career solutions.

"There are a lot of opportunities here, a lot of potential, but it's a matter of getting the information out there," she said.

Over the years, Simon has seen scores of formerly at-risk high school students use the tools and support provided by hers and other local programs to find and succeed at jobs. …

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