Iowa’s Workforce Crisis
During their 2010 campaign, Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds campaigned on creating 200,000 jobs and raising Iowans’ household incomes by 25%. Their record shows that they’ve fallen short and have even lost ground as compared to regional neighbors. Sadly, since Governor Reynolds was took office, the issue has snowballed and become much more serious.
More disconcerting, the current administration and Republicans in the legislature are granting tax credits and refunds to large corporations, but not following up to ensure they are creating the good jobs they promise. Even as Iowa’s schools and critical services experience severe underfunding, the Governor and Republicans in the legislature just passed another huge tax cut.
While the national and regional economies are growing, Iowa’s appears to be stalled. Our population is stagnant and our workforce development efforts are not directed at attracting and developing new workers. The GOP strategy appears to solely consist of throwing money at large corporations who already are sitting on record amounts of cash.
- In order to fill current job openings, we need to double down on education funding. It does not make sense to tout workforce development and training programs and then cut funding for the very institutions that provide that education for our citizens.
- I advocate for completely reimagining how our workforce development office operates and also for reopening public resource centers with trained staff in all parts of the state.
- Iowa’s minimum wage needs to be raised immediately. We’re attracting low-level jobs that don’t pay a living wage. That puts a strain on local communities and public resources and its not fair to anyone.
- State workforce development funds need to be spent more wisely and only for projects that pay living wages with benefits. There needs to be a formal review of each agreement to make sure we are getting a good return on investment.
- We need to focus our investment on growing Iowa-based companies who need a boost to hire more employees, not attracting the latest shiny object from out of state.
- Iowa needs to increase its workforce through welcoming immigrants to our state. We have thousands of unfilled jobs and our population is not growing fast enough to keep up.
Higher incomes in all working class brackets should be our ultimate goal. Higher incomes will allow more families to provide for themselves and will create more taxable income for the state.