A survey of business leaders across Iowa and eight other states finds the Midwestern economy making solid gains as the pandemic wanes, but Iowa’s economy slipped slightly during June.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the region has been seeing sizeable growth for 13 of the past 14 months.
“The manufacturing economy is really, really bouncing back, very strong,” Goss says. “The overall region remains below pre-pandemic levels but we’re moving in the right direction. Only one out of ten supply managers report a lessening of bottlenecks and delays in deliveries. That’s where there are some real issues.”
On a zero to 100 scale where 50 is growth neutral, the regional economy posted a 73.5 for June, up from 72.3 in May. Iowa’s economy didn’t see as strong a showing, however, falling to 69.5 from 70.2 in May. Still, Goss emphasizes, the numbers are good, especially in regards to employment.
“Hiring was very healthy for the month of June despite shortages of workers,” Goss says. “Regional employment still is about 4.1% below pre-pandemic levels. U.S. employment is about 5% below pre-pandemic levels.” Not only since the onset of COVID-19, but for years prior, employers across Iowa and the region have bemoaned the lack of skilled workers to fill thousands of open positions.
The survey results for June continued to confirm the pattern. “Fifty-three percent of our supply managers indicated they will continue to hire and increase hiring for the rest of 2021,” Goss says. “None, zero percent, expect layoffs for the rest of 2021 so that’s a good signal for hiring.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly wages for manufacturing production workers in Iowa rose 7.7% over the past 12 months, while among the nine Midwest states, the growth in Iowa ranked third.