Iowa Ranks High Among Nation's Economic Rate

March 2, 2020

Muscatine Journal DAVID HOTLE

While statistics collected by the Iowa Business Council show the state’s economic climate is strong relative to other states, future challenges include population retention and growth, diversity and a non-competitive tax climate.

According to the annual Iowa Competitive Dashboard, released earlier this month, the growth of Iowa’s economy has remained steady and a $190 billion state gross product is being maintained. Iowa also continues to rank high for labor force. However, paired with a consistently low unemployment rate, Iowa does face a shortage of available workers.

“Iowa has a lot going for it,” Jeff Lorenger, chairman, president and CEO of HNI Corporation and a member of the IBC, said. “We are in a strong financial position. We rank high in student aptitude and post-secondary attainment. There are some areas as we go forward in 2020 for growth.”

Lorenger said among the biggest opportunity for growth in 2020 is the creation of a “talent pipeline.” He also said training and up-scaling of the current population is important. He hopes to also continue working on attractiveness overall in the state to convince people to come to Iowa.

Promising the members of IBC are taking the challenges “head on,” Lorenger says with the assistance of state and local officials, he sees changes on the way. He cited HNI’s new apprenticeship program that targets high school students and allows them to take a three-year program that gives dual credit for classwork while the students learn a job and allows them to be paid. He said the idea is to start the recruitment process early.

“We (the state of Iowa) have more job openings right now than people looking for jobs,” Joe Murphy, executive director of the IBC, said. “We need to do a better job of retaining our students as they graduate from high school or college, but we also need to do a better job of telling the Iowa story and telling all the key attributes that make Iowa great to different places around the country.”

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