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Iowa is poised to thrive

Unemployment is low and state finances are well-managed

Some of our nation’s states are struggling to recover from the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their local economies. Fortunately, Iowa is isn’t one of those states. We are well-situated to return quickly to a level of prosperity that equals or exceeds the levels experienced before the virus disrupted normal life.

The economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 cost many Americans their jobs. Those who were still employed often found themselves working from home rather than at their usual work sites. During the worst of this difficult time, the unemployment rate in Iowa reached 11.1 percent in April 2020, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even at that peak, however, Iowa fared better than many other states. Neighboring Illinois, for example had an unemployment rate of 16.9 percent in April 2020. Now the employment situation in the Hawkeye State is dramatically improved. In August, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, close to the lows our state was experiencing before the coronavirus-induced slowdown.

Clearly, joblessness is not now a major problem in Iowa. An inadequate number of applicants to fill the jobs available in our state has become a more significant issue than unemployment. That’s good news for anyone seeking work. With robust employment opportunities available, Iowa is on track for significant economic growth.

Some states managed their finances poorly during the coronavirus recession. That has left them in poor shape to thrive in the immediate future. Iowa’s governor and lawmakers, however, managed our state well during this challenging time. As a result, Iowa’s government ended its most recent fiscal year in superb shape.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Sept. 27, that far from having its future hampered by pandemic-induced debt, Iowa achieved a $1.238 billion surplus in its General Fund in the fiscal year that ended June 30. That is the largest surplus in Iowa history.

“Iowa is in a very strong financial position due to our fiscal responsibility,” Reynolds said in a statement issued by her office. “This surplus proves we accomplished exactly what we set out to do — overcome the financial challenges caused by the global pandemic and invest in education, workforce, health care, agriculture and technology. We will continue to invest in these important priorities going forward to meet the needs of our citizens and state.”

The Messenger applauds the carefully crafted economic policies and frugal management that have left this state ready to thrive in the months and years just ahead. Iowa’s government has long had a reputation as one of the best-managed of the 50 states.

Continuing that tradition was especially vital as the challenges posed by the pandemic required officials to manage the state’s resources with exceptional wisdom and care. We are delighted that they proved adept at doing so. Thanks in part to their efforts, Iowa is poised to prosper in the years ahead.

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