Iowa’s position amongst states in regards to economic competitiveness improved according to a national study. On Wednesday, the Beacon Hill Institute released its annual survey of state economic competitiveness and rated Iowa as the eighth most competitive state in the nation. This is one step up from the state’s ninth place ranking in 2010.
The Beacon Hill Institute, based at Suffolk University in Boston, has conducted these surveys for eleven years. The survey grades each state on eight topics – government and fiscal policy, security, infrastructure, human resources, technology, business incubation, openness, and environmental policy. The grades for these categories are determined by rankings of 44 separate indicators ranging from the number of active physicians per 100,000 residents to how a state’s budget deficit compares to its gross state product.
For Iowa, the state ranked near or at the top on the state’s minimum wage level, the percent of population enrolled in degree-granting institutions, the budget deficit, murder rate, and average rent for a two-bedroom apartment. Iowa did not do so well when it came to air travel, the number of physicians per 100,000 Iowans, and the number of full-time public employees per 100 residents. Iowa ranked 50th in the number of business “births” per 100,000 Iowans.
For 2011, the survey found that Massachusetts was the most competitive state in the Union. This was a jump up from third best last year. North Dakota was rated number two. The remainder of top five included Colorado, Minnesota, and Utah. While Iowa’s improvement to eighth is a good sign, the fact that two neighboring states – Minnesota and Nebraska – are rated higher show the need for more action to improve Iowa’s competitive status.