Governor Tom Vilsack today announced what he calls a milestone in the state’s economy. In a teleconference with reporters Vilsack said for the first time in history, Iowa led the nation in economic growth last year. For the first time in state history he says per-capita income exceeded 30-thousand dollars. Also, Iowa’s gross state product exceeded 100-billion dollars, increasing at a rate that led the nation last year. The gross state product, the total output of goods and services in Iowa, increased at nearly double the U.S. average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. He says the G-S-P grew at a rate of 8-point-one percent from the year 2003 to 2004, compared with the nation’s growth rate of 4-point-2 percent. While Vilsack says it’s not yet clear just which sectors of the economy contributed most to the state’s economic growth, he expects to see financial services and information solutions among the leaders. He says it’s already clear that diversification of agriculture and the expansion of “the bio-economy” have led to more prosperity in rural Iowa. Vilsack says Iowa ranked second in the nation last year in economic growth, indicating two strong years in a row. He says the gross state product for 2004 is estimated at 103-billion dollars, compared with 96-billion the year before, and Vilsack says it’s the first time for that peak as well as a first for personal income in the state exceeding 30-thousand dollars. It’s also the first time the state of Iowa’s led the nation in economic growth. Economic-development director Michael Blouin joined the governor to note the growth in exports hit an all-time high. “We’re seeing an increase in college graduates in the workforce,” Blouin said, “and our population is beginning to tick up, even though at a very gradual pace.” Blouin said those factors are proof that the state’s efforts are beginning to pay off. Blouin says in 2003 Iowa ranked 36th, with an average income of 28-thousand 340 dollars. Last year we climbed to 30-thousand 560 dollars and a ranking of 31st. He says “the gap is closing.” Blouin said the national average per-capita income is just under 33-thousand dollars a year.
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