As a rural state in America’s Heartland, Iowa’s industries are not well known as an integral part in the country’s economic engine. Yet, in 2014, Business Insider ranked Iowa 18th among the 50 U.S. state economies
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Iowa has one of America’s lowest unemployment rates at 4.5 percent, recently adding 1,700 jobs in the financial sector and 6,700 jobs in manufacturing and construction.
Here are the five leading industries in Iowa that are driving the Hawkeye State’s expanding economy:
1. Agriculture and Food Production
Iowa is tops in the country in producing pork, soybeans, corn and eggs, according to the Iowa Area Development Group (IADG).
Iowa farmers also are leaders in the turkey and dairy industries as well as the bio-based products sector. In all, the state is responsible for more than seven percent of America’s food supply.
2. Renewable Energy
Iowa is the national leader in renewable energy, particularly ethanol production (first), wind generation output (third) and biodiesel production (second), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) reported
. The state also is tops in the Midwest in both fuels production capacity and renewable power.
3. Advanced Manufacturing
The state’s number one industry generates $25 billion a year, IADG said. It also produces jobs for Iowans across the state; more than 210,000 residents work for close to 4,000 manufacturing companies in such manufacturing industries as machinery, fabricated metals and food manufacturing.
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Iowa’s services industry is responsible for creating over 33 percent of the Hawkeye State’s jobs, the Iowa Economic Development Authority said.
This workforce includes wholesale and retail trade, insurance and healthcare.
5. Information and Communications Technology
Since 2012, the state has received new investments from IT companies totaling close to $600 million, IADG said.
These investments include the location of data centers from Microsoft, Google and IBM. The tech industry comprises 8.8 percent ($10.6 billion) of Iowa’s GDP and has created jobs for more than 76,000 Iowa residents. The state is also home to a growing telecommunications sector thanks largely to the Iowa Network Services statewide fiber-optic network that provides connectivity across the state, even in the most rural locales.
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