Iowa economists say the forecast for Iowa’s next quarter has some roses and some thorns. Professor Chuck Whiteman at the University of Iowa’s Institute for Economic Research says overall, Iowa’s economy continued to improve in 2005. He says last year was a “good” one and the new one is “nothing to be worried about,” at least in short-term forecasts. Whiteman says while you can’t predict some catastrophic event like an attack or natural disaster, some things are fairly sure. Whiteman says if there’s something “looming out there,” it’s what’s going to happen with inflation at the national level. The Federal Reserve’s watching it carefully, though, and raised rates again last month so he thinks it’s in good hands, despite being an area of concern for the state and for the nation. Whiteman says Iowa has regained the ground its economy lost after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We’ve not only recovered, he says, we’ve moved beyond that time. Personal income in Iowa will hit $100 billion sometime in 2006, he says, and we’ll hit a million-and-a-half non-farm-employed workers, another milestone for the state. And Whiteman, who’s also a professor of economics at the University of Iowa, says the nonfarm jobs will continue to grow as a percentage of all jobs in Iowa. He says the state’s becoming more diversified than it was in the past, and Whiteman says that’s a good thing for moderate growth without too many risks.
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