CIRAS Annual Review of Manufacturing Available Online

Manufacturing in IowaAMES, Iowa — An annual review of manufacturing by the Iowa State University Center for Industrial Research and Service shows that Iowa’s manufacturing sector continued its post-recession recovery, adding jobs through 2011. Employment in this sector, however, is still 10 percent lower than prerecession levels in 2007.

While manufacturing remains a vital part of Iowa’s economy, future manufacturing employment standings may not return to historical levels, said CIRAS Director Ron Cox. With global competition, technological change and evolution in staffing practices, the manufacturing sector requires fewer workers than in the past. Consequently, even a healthy and growing manufacturing sector in Iowa might not be a source of as many new jobs as historically expected, Cox added.

The complete report is available from the CIRAS website at


The CIRAS annual manufacturing review is based on analysis of data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau and International Trade Administration. Key findings from the report include the following:

  • There are more than 5,980 manufacturing firms in Iowa.
  • Manufacturing contributed $27.6 billion to Iowa’s economy in 2011.
  • Iowa ranks sixth among all states in its percentage of gross domestic product from manufacturing.
  • More than half of Iowa’s manufacturing jobs are located in nonmetro areas.
  • The average manufacturing job in Iowa paid $51,120 in wages and salaries in 2011.
  • Iowa exported $11.7 billion worth of manufactured goods to other countries in 2011.

Other notable findings

Manufacturing in Iowa remains diversified. The state’s manufacturing sector is about evenly split between durable and nondurable goods production. Recent employment growth has been concentrated in the durable goods sector. During 2010–2011, employment in nondurable goods — such as food, printing and chemical manufacturing — declined by half of a percent.

The report also found that nearly half of the manufacturing firms in Iowa are “non-employer firms” with no paid employees other than the owner/operator. Only 293 firms — or approximately 5 percent — have more than 500 employees.


The Center for Industrial Research and Service — CIRAS — is part of the College of Engineering and Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. This year CIRAS is celebrating its 50th anniversary of partnering with Iowa companies and communities to help them prosper and grow, Cox said.

“Last year companies that worked with CIRAS reported $414 million in impact — new investments, higher sales and lower costs. Healthy communities through business prosperity: that’s the CIRAS vision for Iowa,” Cox said.