To hear Iowa Republicans tell it, our state has suffered terribly under the leadership of job-killing, overspending Democrats. The reality, as measured by the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is quite different:
Iowa’s focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and exports has led to an eighth-place ranking on a list of top economic-performing states compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Chamber Foundation.
Iowa ranked high overall as “a solid performer across most of our metrics,” according to the chamber’s newly released Enterprising States survey, largely because “Iowa’s strength is perhaps its stability. The state’s largest cluster, agribusiness, food processing and technology, grew at a 1 percent rate since 2002, significantly better performing than the same group of industries nationally.”
The business group also listed Iowa seventh under “top export performers” due to overseas trade offices that provide help to Iowa companies looking to tap international markets. According to the study, “efforts are paying off, as the state places fourth in growth of exports as a share of gross state product.”
Governor Chet Culver’s office recapped some other favorable reports by outside analysts looking at Iowa’s economy:
[E]arlier this year, Forbes Magazine, the national economic and business journal, named Des Moines as the No. 1 city in America for businesses and careers, and ranked Cedar Rapids as the No. 1 city for projected job growth.
In 2008, Iowa had the eighth-fastest growing economy in the nation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. CNBC’s 2009 “Top States for Business” survey ranks Iowa the fourth best in the nation and No. 1 for low costs of doing business. Finally, last year MarketWatch, another national financial publication, named Des Moines No. 1 in the country for doing business.
Unemployment is too high as we come out of the worst recession since World War II, but Iowa’s unemployment rate is still low by national standards. Contrary to what Republicans would have you believe, our state’s budget is balanced, and our per capita debt burden is low, which is why every major credit rating agency has given Iowa top marks in the past year.
So far I haven’t seen any Iowa Republican reaction to the Chamber of Commerce report. I’ll update this post with any relevant comments.