A business group gave Iowa its annual economic report card on Monday night. The results: not much has changed since 2012.
Each year the Iowa Business Council (IBC) releases its Iowa Competitiveness Index, which analyzes data and information to see how the state ranks compared to others and how it can improve economically. This year’s data shows that indicators in its five main areas – economic growth, education and workforce readiness, governance and fiscal matters, health, and workforce demographics – remain relatively unchanged from 2012.
The results were highlighted during IBC’s 27th Annual Partnership Meeting. During the meeting, Gov. Terry Branstad also addressed more than 250 business leaders, education leaders, elected officials and Business Council members.
The IBC is a nonpartisan organization whose 25 members are the top executives of 21 of the largest businesses in the state, the three Regent university presidents and Iowa’s largest banking association.
Highlights from the index include:
- Iowa does well in manufacturing as a percentage of Gross State Product, ranking as a top 10 state.
- The state has the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the nation.
Education and workforce readiness
- Proficiency of eighth grade reading and math scores remain steady but Iowa’s competitiveness to other states has declined significantly in the last decade.
- Iowa’s ACT Score average, relative to the 28 states where at least 50 percent of students take the exam, dipped slightly but the ranking remains unchanged – solidly near the top.
- The percentage of Iowans at least 25 years-old with a bachelor’s degree or higher shows that one-quarter of the state’s population has earned a college degree, ranking Iowa in the bottom-half of the country.
Governance and fiscal matters
- State debt as a percentage of Gross State Product ranks well nationally, indicating that progress has been made in lowering the state debt.
- Conversely, local debt as a percentage of GSP is worsening.
Health and well-being
- Iowans are not becoming more physically fit. The percentage considered to be obese ranks the state 39 out of 50.
- Iowans smoke too much. The percentage of smokers 18 years and older increased by 25 percent.
- Iowa’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being ranking improved slightly.
Workforce demographics and diversity
- The indicators remained relatively static, with little noticeable movement other than Net overall migration reversed a previous negative trend while Iowa’s ranking improved ten spots to 31st.