ISU economists address Iowa manufacturing, entrepreneurship, the federal debt

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University economists typically research issues important to Iowans. Recent reports have addressed the state of Iowa manufacturing and entrepreneurship of recent Iowa State grads. An economics class also came up with their solution to fix the federal deficit.

MANUFACTURING ECONOMIC STRENGTH -- The spring issue of magazine has a report by Dave Swenson and Liesl Eathington -- both economics researchers with ISU's Regional Economics and Community Analysis Program -- on "The Status of Manufacturing in Iowa." They report that in 2009, despite sharp reductions in manufacturing jobs, the industry still accounted for nearly 11 percent of all Iowa jobs -- more than any other industrial category. Its share of all wages and salaries was 17 percent, showing that manufacturing pays significantly higher wages than the average Iowa job. According to the report, manufacturing sales in 2009 accounted for 28 percent of Iowa's total jobs when considering all inputs into manufacturing and the related consumption of all workers in manufacturing and their supplying sectors. "For the state to remain competitive in the future, manufacturing will need to work with many partners from the private sector, the investment community, state and local government, and our higher education system," the authors concluded. The report is available here. CONTACTS: Eathington, 515-294-2954,; Swenson, 515-294-7458,

ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURSHIP -- Between 2004 and 2005, U.S. Census Bureau data showed that nearly 83 percent of all of the net new jobs in the U.S. economy stemmed from businesses with fewer than 20 employees. So entrepreneurship is vital to economic growth and development. And according to an analysis of 25,000 Iowa State bachelor's degree recipients between 1982 and 2006, the entrepreneurship rate among ISU graduates is more than twice that of the state's general population. Economics researchers Robert Jolly, Li Yu, Peter Orazem and Kevin Kimle found that over the 25-year span of the survey, the entrepreneurship rate for the entire Iowa population was 4.8 to 6.5 percent, but 15.8 percent among ISU graduates. Each ISU entrepreneur created at least one for-profit business, resulting in the creation of 222,569 jobs. And those companies had 2007 revenues of approximately $64 billion. The complete report is available here. CONTACTS: Jolly, 515-294-6740,; Yu, 515-294-5888,; Orazem, 515-294-8656,; Kimle, 515-294-1803,

THE STUDENT BUDGET SOLUTION -- The debate over how best to cut the federal deficit caused gridlock on Capitol Hill, nearly resulting in a government shutdown. But that debate created the perfect backdrop for fertile discussions in the "Public Finance and Public Policy" class taught by ISU economics professor Dan Otto last semester. Students from nine different majors worked throughout the semester on team projects around issues concerning the deficit. At mid-semester, they were invited by a non-partisan organization called The Concord Coalition to participate in a workshop on issues related to the federal deficit, along with other students from the University of Iowa and UNI. After a semester of analysis and debate, Otto and the students published an editorial on their recommendations -- one being to address the rapid rise in health care costs in an effort to decrease the cost of Medicare and Medicaid -- in The Des Moines Register. CONTACT: Otto, 515-294-6147,