A survey of business leaders across Iowa finds the state’s leading economic indicator for August fell several points from July but continues to grow. Creighton University polls companies monthly in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states. Creighton economist Ernie Goss says the region’s employment index also fell for the month, setting up an unusual situation. “Four of 10 businesses reported they had more openings than they had applicants,” Goss says. “Think about that. We’ve got this job market where we’re losing jobs, at least for August, yet we have more openings than we have applicants for four of ten companies.”
Goss explains why that happened. “That’s a lot of jobs out there that people just aren’t qualified for, in other words, they don’t meet the minimum requirements,” Goss says. “Those would be skilled occupations, primarily.”
Businesses in Iowa and the eight other states in the region are also seeing what Goss calls a supply bottleneck. It’s led to the delivery lead time index reaching its highest level in three years. “What we’ve got across the region is a difficulty in getting your inputs, that’s raw materials and supplies, to your business,” Goss says. “Why is that? A lot of your rail cars are shipping and full with energy products and that’s taking up space on these either trucking or rails.”
Housing construction is also picking up, he says, so housing supplies are taking up room as well. Economic growth in Iowa will remain healthy for the second half of 2014, Goss projects, based on surveys over the last several months. Since the national recovery began in July of 2009, the manufacturing sector in Iowa added almost 18,000 manufacturing jobs for a nine-percent job gain. For 2014, however, he says the state’s manufacturing sector has added jobs at a somewhat slower pace.