Two measurements of Iowa’s economy show some positive growth in recent months and high expectations among employers about hiring. Iowa’s Business Conditions Index in May was 66.5, down from 67.2 in April, but Iowa still posted the second-highest ranking among nine Midwest states measured in the report.
Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss compiles the report and says Iowa’s manufacturing sector continues to bounce back from the recession. “We’ll see manufacturing…growing and moving ahead, perhaps we’re not going to move above pre-recession levels until 2015, but it’s still up,” Goss said. The overall index for the nine state region rose to 60.5 in May, the highest overall reading recorded in more than three years.
The economic index goes from 0 to 100, with any number above a 50 suggesting growth in the upcoming three to six months. Minnesota took the top spot in May, with an index of 67.3. Goss notes, across the region, 41-percent of the businesses surveyed expect new hiring, while only 10-percent anticipate layoffs for the remainder of 2014.
“Of course, we don’t want to see layoffs, but that’s very low compared to (the results) we got this time last year,” Goss said.
Another report released today, shows employers in Iowa are gaining confidence about the economy. The Iowa Business Council’s (IBC) Economic Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2014 posted an employment index of 63 — which IBC Executive Director Elliott Smith says is six points higher than three months ago and five points higher than this time last year. “This matches our historical high on this index, previously reached back in the second quarter of 2012 and in the first quarter of 2008,” Smith said.
The Iowa Business Council is comprised of the CEOs of 25 of the state’s largest employers. In addition to the employment outlook through the end of the year, the leaders of those companies were surveyed about their plans for sales and capital spending. “Neither one of those numbers moved very much from what were already fairly solid, positive readings from previous quarters,” Smith said. The IBC survey’s overall index — combining employment, capital spending, and sales — was 64. That’s two points higher than the 2014 first quarter report and the same as this time last year.