After falling to unprecedented lows at the peak of the pandemic earlier this year, a survey finds the economies in Iowa and the Midwest are making remarkable comebacks.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the monthly survey of business leaders in Iowa and eight other states shows economic conditions are much improved. The Business Conditions Index ranges from zero to 100, with 50 being growth neutral.
“The survey for the month of October was very solid,” Goss says. “The overall index soared to 70.2, its highest level in 16 years and that’s up from 65.1 in September, so this was a very strong reading.”
The overall index for Iowa climbed well beyond the figures for the Midwest, peaking at 78.7 during October, up from 67.1 in September.
Most business leaders surveyed indicated this year’s coronavirus pandemic caused serious damage to their bottom lines, but they’ve bounced much of the way back.
“About 71% said they expected short-term negative impacts, only 10% reported positive COVID-19 impacts,” Goss says. “Overall, we’re seeing the economy continuing to expand. We’re still probably four to five percent below pre-COVID-19 levels.”
Iowa’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in September, the fifth consecutive months of drops from the peak of 11-percent in April. Manufacturing across the Midwest is doing “quite well” and Goss says the region overall is seeing an employment surge, the best in two decades.
“Hiring for October was very strong,” Goss says. “The overall number was 66.7. Again, these indices range from zero to 100 with 50 being growth neutral. This is the highest reading we’ve recorded this century and it’s up from 61.8 in September and that was a very strong reading.”
Still, Goss says more than three in four (78%) of those questioned said they’re experiencing a shortage of qualified workers.