A researcher who’s examined Iowa job data says Iowa is “worse off today” than it was in 2001 when the recession started. Elaine Ditsler is a research analyst for the Iowa Policy Project, a liberal think-tank that issues a biennial report titled “The State of Working Iowa.” “Not only in terms of the number of jobs is Iowa behind, but also in terms of the types of jobs,” Ditsler says. According to Ditsler, new jobs in growing sectors of Iowa’s economy like the service industry pay less than the old jobs that were lost in sectors like manufacturing. She says the new jobs in Iowa’s economy offer fewer benefits, and offer an annual salary that’s about $7000 less, on average. “This is a bad trend,” Ditsler says. About two-thirds of the jobs in industries that are declining provided health insurance benefits, according to her analysis, whereas just under half of the jobs in growing industries offer insurance. “Another trend that is not so good,” she says. Ditsler’s Iowa Policy Project issued a report last week which showed what the group called “anemic” job growth of just 4000 more jobs in Iowa now compared to the number of jobs here in March of 2001, when the recession began. “This slow job growth, focused in more lower-wage sectors such as leisure and hospitality and other service sectors has hurt Iowans’ pocketbooks,” Ditzler says. She says the median wage in Iowa last year was $13.21 an hour — about $3 an hour below Minnesota and $1 below the national median wage. She says in the past five years, Iowa has lost between 20,000 and 30,000 manufacturing jobs.
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