Monday, August 11, 2014

Russian Ban on U.S. Imports May Impact Iowa Economy

CNN reported August 6 that Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned all food and agricultural imports from countries that have imposed sanctions against his country.

  • ·         Russia is Europe's largest importer in value of animals, meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, according to the European Union.
  • ·         Russia is Iowa’s 12th largest export market (2013 – U.S. Census Bureau)

o   Iowa exported $211 million in products to Russia in 2013, down from $330 million in 2012 (U.S. Census Bureau)

What do you think the economic impact of such actions will be on the Iowa economy?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The America Works Act - Creating a Skilled Workforce Through Industry-Recognized Credentials

  • The U.S. needs a strong technical workforce. Employers rely on the right workers, with the right skills, at the right time to drive innovation and remain globally competitive. Workers need the right skills to access employment and advancement opportunities.
  • A recent study identified that 600,000 manufacturing jobs are currently going unfilled because of a lack of skilled talent.
  • The solution for workers and employers is nationally portable, industry-recognized skills credentials.
  • Industry leaders across the manufacturing economy have endorsed a set of “stackable” credentials verifying the basic skills necessary for individuals to succeed in virtually all entry-level jobs in manufacturing.
  • These nationally portable, industry-recognized skills certifications are grounded on the skills identified by manufacturers as necessary in the workplace.
  • Directing resources to education and training that results in nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials will be good for workers and good for the economy.
  • The America Works Act prioritizes nationally portable, industry-recognized certifications within existing federal training systems, using existing funding.
The America Works Act directs the use of public funds for designated programs in the Carl D. Perkins Vocational–Technical Education Act (Perkins), Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to develop necessary skills.
  • It amends the Training Activities and Youth Activities sections of the WIA to give priority to training programs resulting in nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials.
  • It amends Perkins by assuring programs of study that receive federal funds result in nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials within the Career and Technical Education section of the bill.
  • It adds a provision to improve training programs under TAA directing the Secretary of Labor to approve programs that provide a nationally portable, industry-recognized credential.
Click here to view a chart depicting the severe existing shortage in skilled production based on the 2011 Skills Gap Report .

Source: National Association of Manufacturers (


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Positions to Fill... Waiting for Perfection

An article published March 6, 2013 in the New York Times discusses the reluctance of employers to fill positions, as well as changes we have seen in the United States regarding the interviewing/hiring process. Changes that include, in some cases, an increase of 50% over a four-year period in the length of time positions remain unfilled.
See the full article here:
New York Times - With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection
Please share your experiences with the interviewing and/or hiring processes you have encountered.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Data-Driven Decisions?

We often hear the term. Data-driven decisions or data-based decisions. What does it really mean?
According to, data-driven decision management (DDDM) is an approach to business governance that focuses on gathering data and analyzing it to guide corporate decisions and policies. The data-driven approach is gaining popularity within businesses as the amount of data available increases in tandem with market pressures.
Data-driven decision management is usually undertaken as a means of gaining a competitive advantage. A study from the MIT Center for Digital Business found that organizations driven most by data-based decision making had 4% higher productivity rates and 6% higher profits.
The success of the data-driven approach is reliant upon the quality of the data gathered and the effectiveness of its analysis and interpretation. Errors can creep into data analytics processes at any stage of the endeavor and serious issues can result when they do.

The two links below offer two perspectives on data-driven decisions from the New York Times.

What is your opinion on and experience with data-driven or data-based decision making?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Iowa's Residential Housing Permits See Gain in 2012

Nearly 10,000 new permits were issued for residential housing in Iowa in 2012, an increase of more than 32% over 2011's total of 7,526. This marks the third consecutive increase in issued permits, with the most significant gain made from 2011 to 2012.
The permits were issued for construction of new single and multi-unit housing units. Single-unit housing accounts for an average of 77% of the total permits issued.
The total number of permits issued peaked in 2005 at 16,726 and in 2006 began to descend to a 2009 low of 7,130 (a 57.37% decline from 2005). In the same time period, employment in the construction sector dropped from 4.86% of total nonfarm employment in Iowa to 4.2% of total nonfarm employment. Currently, construction sector employment represents 4.48% of the total. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Technology's Impact on Industry

Today's article focuses on the potential impact of new and/or improved technology on industries and the associated jobs.

Click the link to see an article detailing the direct effect of technology on one northeast Iowa business and share your thoughts with us on the topic.

Quad Graphics Closing Dubuque Facility