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Iowa Business Council finds positive outlook despite labor, supply shortage

DES MOINES — The Iowa Business Council’s third-quarter Economic Outlook Survey shows a continued positive outlook among its business members for the next six months.

IBC executive director, Joe Murphy, says while it is the fifth straight positive survey, a couple of issues continue to persist.
“We are still facing extreme pressures from a workforce shortage perspective, and increasing bottlenecks in the supply chain for Iowa companies,” Murphy says. The labor shortage is directly linked to the supply chain problem.

“We don’t have enough truck drivers to move the supplies, we don’t have enough people out on the west coast in the Port of Los Angeles to offload those cargo containers. There’s not enough people out there to move the empty containers so more trucks can get in,” he says.

Sales expectations fell just lightly as did the employment index fell. The survey found 55% of businesses expect their workforce to grow, and 40% do not anticipate any change in employment. One hundred percent of the businesses in the survey say hiring is somewhat difficult to very difficult.

“Once those goods are here in Iowa, there’s a bottleneck with individuals not being employed at our companies,” Murphy says. “And so, those supply chain issues are really at the root cause stemming from that workforce issue — and that’s really concerning for us moving forward.”

The third-quarter survey’s overall economic outlook index is nearly 66 — with 50 or above being positive. “We’re optimistic about the future — but the whole point of these surveys is to forecast what some of these issues are currently or on the horizon,” Murphy says. “If these issues don’t become less of a burden for companies, you’ll start to see that optimism number start to trickle backward. We’ve seen that before in our surveys if you look at some of our historical data.”

Murphy says Iowa needs to continue working on solutions to the problems or face the possibility of businesses looking to other states. “That means less money coming into Iowa, less property tax base, etcetera. And so that’s really the danger here long term. And that is something you’ll continue to see the Iowa Business Council work against,” Murphy says.

The Iowa Business Council is made up of 22 chief executives from Iowa’s largest organizations. The IBC says one in six jobs in Iowa are tied to an Iowa Business Council company.

Visit the IBC’s website to see more information from the survey.

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