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Iowa’s manufacturing outlook mixed, according to report

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(The Center Square) – Iowa’s manufacturing exports have grown by 9.3%, but the index for the state’s overall business conditions remained below growth neutral in September, according to Creighton University’s Mid-American Economy report.

Iowa’s Business Conditions Index grew slightly from 47.9 in August to 48.5 last month. Fifty represents growth neutral.

Despite nearly one-third of supply managers across nine states from Minnesota to Arkansas expecting a recession before the end of the first quarter of 2024, according to the report, Iowa expanded its manufacturing exports from $9.1 billion in the first seven months of 2022 to $10 billion in the first seven months of 2023.

From 2022 to 2023, Iowa’s leading manufacturing export, machinery, grew by nearly 24%, the report found.

However, all but one of the components for Iowa’s September index were below growth neutral.

Creighton University’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index, which serves as a leading economic indicator, found the region’s overall reading rose above growth neutral for the first time in two months but remained weak.

Seasonally adjusted manufacturing employment decreased for four of the past five months with expectations that job losses will continue, according to the report.

In Iowa, approximately 15,700 jobs were added to the economy over the past year, with its unemployment rate below the national average at 2.9%, according to Iowa Workforce Development. There are currently about 65,006 job openings in the state.

The state has more than 85,000 farms and crop progress also affects the state’s economy. Iowa experienced higher drought conditions this year, which is expected to impact corn and soybean crops.

This week’s crop progress and condition report from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship predicted primarily dry conditions through early October.

Dryer conditions have moved up the timing of the harvest for both corn and soybeans, Iowa Farm Bureau Economist Dr. Christopher Pudenz told The Center Square.

This week, corn maturity reached 92%, eight days ahead of last year and 13 days ahead of the five-year average, according to the weekly crop report. Soybeans dropping leaves was 87%, five days ahead of last year and the average.

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