A survey finds Iowa’s bucking the national trend with its continued growth in manufacturing jobs. For the third straight year, Iowa reported a significant upturn in the number of factory positions during 2006, according to Tom Dubbin, president of the research and publishing firm Manufacturers’ News.
Dubbin says "The state gained another 74-hundred manufacturing jobs which basically matches 2005’s gain of 7,800 jobs. We find that the state has 6,251 manufacturing plants employing 292,000 workers." Dubbin says the survey profiles large and small Iowa manufacturers, including start-up companies. He says Iowa ranks 23rd in the nation for manufacturing jobs and 22nd for plants — and is growing in both categories.
Dubbin says "It certainly defies the national trend. Even though manufacturing productivity is at an all-time high, jobs have been leaving the country. Iowa and the Plains states in general are in a good position in that those states depend heavily on agriculture and farm machinery which are less likely to be outsourced." Iowa has more than one-thousand factories devoted to industrial machinery and equipment, nearly 800 operations for printing and publishing, and 732 plants for food products.
He says meatpacking is Iowa’s top industry by employment, accounting for 25-thousand-300 jobs. Farm machinery ranks second with nearly 13,400 jobs while third-ranked plastic products accounts for 13,000 jobs.
Dubbin says "Because Iowa industry depends so much on food products and on agricultural machinery, those are industries where you need a close proximity to your customer. You can’t generally import that from overseas. Those are good industries to be in when so many jobs that are labor-intensive, as opposed to resource-intensive, are being shipped overseas."
Dubbin singles out five Iowa cities that account for a large portion of the state’s manufacturing. They’re also among the state’s biggest population centers. Dubbin says Cedar Rapids is Iowa’s top industrial employer with more than 20-thousand manufacturing jobs, with Des Moines close behind at 19,000. Waterloo was third, followed by Davenport and Dubuque. Manufacturers News employees contact every single manufacturer in Iowa every year, asking how many employees they have and how that may have changed over the previous year. Based in Evanston, Illinois, it publishes the Iowa Manufacturers Register , an annual industrial guide.