Iowa economy could be more resilient to COVID-19 recession, but some question value

(The Center Square) – Iowa’s economy is better positioned to handle the COVID-19 than many other states, according to a new analysis.

Iowa Policy Project Research Director Peter Fisher said he took no solace in the new national survey that found the state would fare better than most in fending off the economic damage caused by the coronavirus crisis.

“To me, to find out that we’re better off than some other states is irrelevant,” Fisher said of the findings of a new survey that concludes the state’s economy has proven less vulnerable than most to all the ravages of the pandemic. “The same problems everywhere else are the same problems here.”

Using a range of 10 metrics that included such variables as the share of the GDP and percentage of the workforce in industries hit hardest, Iowa ranked 38th among states considered most vulnerable and 40th in terms of the vulnerability of its industries and workforce. In addition, the state ranked 20th in its resources to manage the crisis.

“I really don’t know what you do with that information,” Fisher added. “The important thing to me is we just had our third straight week of record unemployment. So, the question is what are we going to do about it? That’s what we should be focused on. What are we going to do about our small businesses? that should be our focus.”

In the end, Fisher said he doesn’t put much stock in the rankings, even though he said he thinks researchers focused on some of the right issues.

“Some of the industry measures are of interest, but my problem is the way you put some of these things together and come up with scores is highly dubious,” he said. “Plenty of people do these kinds of rankings, but there’s no real science involved.”

Fisher said he worried that rankings like these may give the people of the state a false sense of complacency.

“Our hospitality and recreation industries are almost shut down the same way they are everywhere else,” he said.

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