A three-member panel of state financial experts met this week to predict state tax collections, and the group said growth in the Iowa economy will be limited because there aren’t enough people to fill jobs. Ann Wagner, a labor market analyst for the state’s Workforce Development agency, says there are a number of issues at play.
Wagner says in a year or two, businesses will have to consider hiring people in “under-utilized groups” like retired people, immigrants, and minorities. “They’re going to have to look at those people to fill out the labor force,” Wagner says.
Wagner says a second issue is probably just as serious — the skill gap. “There are a lot of bodies to do the jobs, but there are a lot of people who don’t have the skills to perform up to par in today’s workplace,” Wagner says.
The key to Iowa’s growth will be ensuring workers gain the technology skills to keep up, according to Wagner. Iowa Policy Project executive director David Osterberg, an economist, says legislators and the governors need to react. Osterberg says if it’s true that workers need to learn new skills, then the state should spend more money on community colleges and universities where workers go for retraining.