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Iowa State University Extension

Iowa likely to follow U.S. trend: Slow decline in manufacturing

Ron Cox

What effect do national manufacturing trends like slow growth, higher prices and layoffs have on Iowa’s manufacturing economy? According to Ron Cox, director of ISU Extension’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), Iowa, as well as the Midwest, “has bucked national trends. But I think it’s catching up with us. The whole U.S. manufacturing economy is starting into a slow down turn, and nobody knows how big it is.”

Cox says key manufacturing indicators suggest that at least for the next two or three months the United States is likely to continue to see a slow down, and Iowa will likely follow that trend.

In July Iowa had 231,800 people working in manufacturing; that number decreased to 230,300 in October — a loss of 1,500 manufacturing jobs in three months, Cox said. “But to put it in perspective, the rest of the Iowa economy grew by 4,500 jobs. Manufacturing is starting to behave in Iowa and the Midwest like it is behaving nationally – a slow decline.”

However, Cox said, “If we’re looking for a silver lining, Iowa did not behave like the rest of the country for most of the past year. Although we’ve had this recent decline, we have gained 600 manufacturing employees over the last year.”

In addition, some industries that are important to Iowa — the food industry, the chemical industry, machinery, electrical equipment and appliances, computer and electronic products — are all growing nationally, Cox said. “We have a lot of these industries in Iowa, so hopefully the growth nationally will help us out.”

Visit the CIRAS Web site to listen to Cox’s monthly radio commentary on manufacturing and the economy.

This article appeared in December 2007 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter