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Iowa’s GDP grows 5.2% in Q1 behind gains in manufacturing and agriculture


Iowa’s gross domestic product grew by 5.2% in the first quarter of 2021, a slower rate of growth than previous quarters as the nation continues to pull itself out of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a report released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, Iowa’s GDP in the first quarter also trailed other Midwestern and Plains states, and the nation.

Wisconsin’s GDP grew by 6%, the GDP in Nebraska and Missouri grew by 6.1%, Illinois and South Dakota’s GDP grew by 6.4%, and in Minnesota, it grew by 7.5% in the first quarter. The GDP in quarterly reports is expressed in annualized amounts.

Nationally, the GDP grew 6.4% in the first quarter. The GDP measures the monetary value of finished goods and services in each state and the country.

Although a smaller rate of increase, Iowa’s 5.2% was better than the 2% decline in the same quarter in 2020, before the effects of the virus caused the nation’s economy to come to a halt.

The monetary value of Iowa’s GDP in the first quarter was more than $205.6 billion, up from $199.9 billion the previous quarter, and up from $195.6 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

The largest gain was reported in agriculture at $1.71 billion, followed by manufacturing at $1.52 billion. Retail trade grew by $389.4 million, wholesale by $358 million, and accommodation and food services by $215.7 million.

The agricultural sector accounted for 29.8% of the growth, with manufacturing making up more than 26% of the growth. Retail, wholesale, and accommodation and food services also saw noticeable, albeit smaller, growth in the first-quarter report.

Iowa’s first-quarter GDP ranked 43rd in the country, which Iowa State University economist David Swenson said wasn’t surprising.

“Somewhat lackluster GDP growth should come as no surprise because, according to [Bureau of Labor Statistics] figures released last week, Iowa nonfarm employment has only grown by 0.4% since October, 2020,” Swenson said.

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