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Educators' unions call for efforts to ensure in-person learning keeps students, teachers, families, and staff safe; and an update on hate crimes by state.

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Friday, December 28, 2012   

DES MOINES, Iowa - A sneak peek at the average middle-class household budget in Iowa shows about $100 left each month after covering regular expenses - at least, before the Christmas bills are due.

The research from the Center for Responsible Lending looked at monthly expenses and incomes. Sonia Garrison, senior researcher for the center, says wages have been declining over the past decade while the cost of just about everything has been going up. She adds that $100 doesn't leave much wiggle room in a family budget.

"It's not nearly enough to cover a medical or other emergency, to save for a down payment for a home or auto purchase, or to contribute adequately to college or retirement savings."

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson says the typical American family started taking on more debt than it could handle almost 30 years ago.

"Once you factor in the fact that households in the United States have a lot of debt that they are still paying down, that doesn't leave much money at the end of the month to buy other things."

Overall household debt loads have decreased since 2007, the report says, but the types of debts have changed, with student loans becoming more common - and larger. Garrison says the center is calling for more scrutiny of student loans - and auto loans as well.

There's good news in the report, too, with recent regulations on mortgages and credit cards cited as protecting consumers.

The full report, "The State of Lending in America and Its Impact on U.S. Households," is online at responsiblelending.org.


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