Two reports released on February 1 indicate expansion in Iowa's manufacturing and farming industries, which could help to create manufacturing jobs.
The Mid-American States index, which quantifies economic activity in the Midwest, surged to 55.9 in January from the reading of 50 in December, according to The Des Moines Register.
Ernie Goss, the Creighton University economist who gathers the data and calculates the index, stated that the increase was the largest since October 2009, the media outlet reports.
"January’s reading is clearly good news on the employment front. However, I will have to see several months of similar readings to be assured that the labor market is back on a solid growth path," Goss stated, according to The Associated Press.
Iowa's index soared to 66.0 during the period from its value of 56.3 in December, according to The Associated Press. Various economic indicators were included in the index, including inventories with a reading of 64.0, new orders at 77.1, employment at 67.2, production or sales at 65.8 and delivery lead time at 64.0.
January was the 25th month that the state's index had a reading above 50, which is interpreted by market experts as "growth neutral," The Des Moines Register reports.
"Iowa manufacturers are expanding at the strongest pace in the region," Goss said, according to the media outlet. "Both durable and non-durable goods manufacturers reported strong business conditions for the month. Firms linked to agriculture and international markets continue to experience very healthy growth."
He added that "Iowa manufacturers are expanding at the strongest pace in the region," The Associated Press reports.
The state will need to add another 43,000 positions to get its labor market to the point it was at before the recession began, and creating the needed jobs could take as long as two years, Goss stated, The Des Moines Register reports.
The Iowa Leading Indicators Index crept up to reach 104.5 in December from 104.3 in November, according to the media outlet. This reversed the negative movements that the index has made since August. Of the eight indicators that compose the figure, five helped to increase the index. Diesel fuel consumption, unemployment insurance claims, demand for goods produced by manufacturers, the average number of hours worked by manufacturing employees in a week and an index of the Iowa stock market all made positive contributions to Iowa's index of key indicators.
In Southeast Iowa, a food manufacturer announced that it plans to invest $20 million into expanding a facility in Fort Madison, which will result in the creation of 65 new manufacturing jobs, television station KHQA-TV reports. The plant currently employs 535 workers.
The 17,000-square-foot expansion will allow the company to make new products, which include Nalley brand chili, according to the media outlet. The facility is now capable of producing a full line of food products, which includes beef stew, vienna sausages and armour brand corned beef hash.
Fort Madison Mayor Steve Ireland and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad were present to cut the ribbon on the new facility, and Ireland stated that "It's truly been a partnership and you know it's really great to be a part of this expansion. And it's great for the city of Fort Madison to be involved in job creation and we're happy to do it," the media outlet reports.
Manufacturing jobs, which can often be filled through staffing agencies, are only one benefit of this plant expansion, as it is helping the company to remain in Lee County, according to the media outlet.