IBC Releases 2020 Competitive Dashboard at Capitol

February 6, 2020

The Iowa Business Council (IBC) released its annual, nonpartisan review of the state’s economic climate. Known as Iowa's Competitive Dashboard, the report measures Iowa's standing in five categories relative to other states.

View the full 2020 Competitive Dashboard

Receiving average rankings in four of the five categories, Iowa's population growth, diversity and an uncompetitive tax climate continue to be challenges. As top business leaders evaluate the state's landscape, creating a future ready workforce, connecting business with education and attracting a more diverse population will be critical to long-term economic prosperity.

"Iowa is in a strong financial position. Over the last year, the state experienced a solid gross state product figure, a budget surplus and low unemployment," IBC Chair Mary Andringa of Vermeer stated. "But we know that for businesses to continue to thrive, we need an expanded skilled workforce. As the Iowa Business Council tours the state with this data, we will be working with communities to better understand their current challenges and asking them to join us to both upskill their current population and create a welcoming environment for new Iowans."

All the metrics included in the report can be measured consistently across all 50 states, providing an accurate depiction of how Iowa is competing nationally. Each indicator consists of five metrics that are averaged to determine Iowa’s overall performance in that category – competitive, average, or poor. These five metrics are then averaged to determine an overall ranking for each indicator which include: economic growth; workforce and education; governance; health and wellness; and demographics and diversity. The report also includes recommended actions that IBC members developed to help the state improve in each category.

The dashboard, which has been released since 2011, serves as a tool for policymakers, business and community leaders in making sound decisions. IBC members encourage leaders to join in implementing the report's recommendations or to develop their own action items based on the report’s data.

Iowa Business Council members span all 99 counties and provide a significant economic and philanthropic impact throughout the state. In 2019 IBC members:

  • employed 163,000+ Iowans;
  • had a combined payroll exceeding $7.5 billion;
  • spent over $3.2 billion in capital investment;
  • spent over $1.5 billion on research and development;
  • gave over $76 million in charitable contributions and giving over 240,000 hours of volunteer time; and,
  • spent more than $26 million in education and training.

Select findings from each section of the 2020 report include:

Economic Growth

  • Despite geopolitical uncertainty, trade disputes, and volatile weather patterns, Iowa’s economy has remained steady, maintaining a $190 billion gross state product.
  • Iowa continues to rank high for labor force participation but paired with our consistently low unemployment rate, Iowa faces a persistent shortage of available workers. 

Education and Workforce

  • Iowa is ranked #1 in the country for the state’s average composite ACT score, tied with South Dakota.
  • Iowa ranks in the top 10 for the percentage of population with a high school degree plus some level of post-secondary credential or degree. 


  • Iowa ranks in the top 10 as a best run state, attributed to its low unemployment, high percentage of the population with access to health insurance and high public-pension funded ratio. 
  • Iowa’s corporate and individual income taxes make it less competitive, though tax reforms of 2018 will likely positively affect these numbers once triggers are met.

Health and Wellness

  • Iowa decreased its percentage of obese individuals in the last year, highlighting the need to continue programs like the Healthiest State Initiative.
  • While the number of insured Iowans continues to be high, the state struggles to recruit and retain active primary care physicians.

Demographics and Diversity

  • Iowa’s population growth has consistently trailed the national average and its net migration decreased by nearly 30 percent, over 1,000 people in the past year.
  • Although Iowa’s ethnic diversity is increasing, with trends pointed toward consistent growth, Iowa ranks in the bottom six states for the ethnic diversity of the population.

View the full 2020 Competitive Dashboard

IBC Releases 2020 Competitive Dashboard at Capitol


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