(The Center Square) – Iowa’s unemployment rate of 4.7%, the fifth lowest in the nation, shows that the state is positioned to bounce back from the pandemic, a spokesperson for the Iowa Economic Development Authority said.
Iowa was one of the few states not to impose a full stay-at-home order, the New York Times reported. Bars, hair salons, movie theaters and restaurants could reopen beginning in May, earlier than was allowed by most states. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, blocked cities and towns from requiring masks to be worn or the imposition of other restrictions. Some cities have enacted mask mandates anyway.
“Iowa has done the right things and, as a result, the state is in an enviable position for economic recovery and growth,” Staci Hupp Ballard, spokesperson for the Iowa EDA, told The Center Square. “Our state budget was strong when the pandemic hit, thanks to responsible budgeting practices and full cash reserves, and our economy stayed open. States that shut down will have a longer recovery time than Iowa will.”
That explains lowa's unemployment rate and why the state fared better than the nation in GDP, she said.
“The Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority have helped businesses and the economy by rolling out several relief programs – a total of 12 programs and $258 million so far,” she said. “For example, our Small Business Relief Grant provided $94 million to about 5,000 Iowa small businesses.
Hupp Ballard said the state has worked on a plan to not just get Iowa back to where its economy was, but to grow beyond that. Gov. Kim Reynolds convened an Economic Recovery Advisory Board with business leaders. State agencies staffed the board, including the Iowa EDA.
The Iowa EDA and Iowa Finance Authority supported groups representing small business, housing, the hospitality and tourism industries, innovation and manufacturing, she said. Opportunities in childcare, housing, broadband, manufacturing and telehealth were among the top recommendations.
Iowa’s success comes primarily from its mix of industries, relying heavily on agriculture and manufacturing, which were insulated from the virus, the New York Times reported.