The final survey of Iowa business leaders and supply managers for 2004 finds the state’s economy slowing a bit, but still chugging along reasonably well. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss does the monthly survey in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states. He says Iowa had a slight decline from November to December but the indicators all point toward good growth for both the first and second quarters of 2005. He says there was a significant drop in the economic indicators but Iowa’s economy is still above “growth neutral,” meaning the economy is still growing, just not as fast. He says Iowa’s economy will likely continue to grow as the weakening conditions seen during December were due primarily to a seasonal pullback by durable goods manufacturers. Goss expects the employment picture to improve in 2005 as well. The job outlook is very good, Goss says, following with growth over the past four months. There are even reports of labor shortages in some of the more rural areas in heavy manufacturing. Heavy manufacturing firms in Iowa reported improving economic conditions while food processing firms reported slower growth for the month. Goss says he is forecasting employment growth during the first half of 2005 at one-point-seven percent.
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