An economist with the Iowa Policy Project says job growth in Iowa is “anemic.” Economist David Osterberg’s comments come after a state report issued yesterday (Thursday) showed unemployment up slightly in Iowa in November, while the number of jobs in Iowa set a record. Osterberg can only muster a little bit of enthusiasm about the numbers. “I think we can finally say that the growth is continuing,” Osterberg says. “It’s nine out of the last 10 months, so that’s good.”
Osterberg has a big caveat, though. “You have to look at how slowly it’s going up. We’re 56 months from the beginning of that recession back in 2001. We’ve only increased jobs by 11-thousand. We’ve sure increased our population by a lot more than that,” Osterberg says. “This is an anemic increase.” Osterberg compares the latest state job figures with some from the last recession, the one in 1990.
Fifty-six months after the beginning of that recession Iowa had gained about 125-thousand jobs. Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack issued a statement yesterday (Thursday), touting the record set in November in Iowa in terms of the number of Iowans who had a job. Vilsack called it “great news” and “an indicator” that the “Iowa Values” economic development fund he helped create was sparking economic opportunities throughout the state.
But Osterberg, a Democrat like Vilsack who once served in the Iowa House, points out that about 80-thousand Iowans are still looking for work. “Again, an 11-thousand job increase going back to March of 2001. That is not rollin’ along,” Osterberg says. “That is getting along only.”