The recent 2020 Census figures show Iowa’s population at 3,190,369, having grown 4.7% over the last decade. At first glance this seems like a reasonable rate of growth for our state. In fact, when looking at all the states’ rate of growth from 2010 to 2020, Iowa falls in the middle of the pack. However, when we step back and look at longer-term population growth, Iowa’s slow rate of growth becomes much more pronounced. When looking at the overall percent of population growth from 1910 to 2020, Iowa comes in second to last, just ahead of North Dakota. While Iowa’s population has grown in a slow but steady way, it’s very apparent when looking at our growth relative to other states that big-picture wise, Iowa is not keeping up.
This trend also plays out when examining labor force data – Iowa comes in as the tenth slowest growing state for labor force when looking at long-term trends (in this case, 1976 to present based on available data). This is in addition to our sluggish recovery from the labor force losses of 2020. While many other states are seeing their labor force levels steadily return to 2019 levels, our numbers remain stagnant.
The Economic Alliance remains close to this topic as members share their experiences and struggles with workforce demand. We remain vigilant in our mission to drive economic, workforce and population growth strategies to help our member businesses succeed.