Iowa’s economic numbers for the just-ended month were the best in the nine-state region, according to a monthly survey from Creighton University.
Business leaders and supply managers across the Midwest are polled on conditions every month and Creighton economist Ernie Goss says the February report finds the prolonged winter and frigid temperatures hurt business region wide. “The overall index was down slightly and a lot of it has to do with the weather,” Goss says. “Obviously, the weather across the nation is having an impact. Fully one-third of the businesses that we survey reported negative impacts on their sales for the month of February that came from the weather.”
On the plus side, Goss is predicting job gains for the first half of 2014 both for Iowa and the region. “The employment numbers were good,” Goss says. “The numbers were in the growth range. We’re seeing jobs added in manufacturing, particularly in durable goods. We’re seeing jobs added in business services and that’s a real good thing.”
For rural farming states like Iowa, Goss notes the ag economy is still limping along. “Agriculture, a little bit weaker, businesses tied to agriculture, not as strong,” Goss says. “Some of those businesses by selling internationally are overcoming some of that. Our export number for the month of February was very strong and that’s good news particularly for agriculture, particularly for manufacturing.”
The Creighton report shows strong growth for metal manufacturers and food processors in Iowa. Even as domestic sales of ag equipment cooled, Goss says international sales of farm and earth-moving equipment have boosted business activity for ag equipment manufacturers in the state.