Layoffs, expansions and trade wars: 2018 roughed up some of the biggest names in Iowa businessDecember 27, 2018
Younkers department stores went under. Wells Fargo contracted. And factories at both Lennox International and Vermeer were battered by tornadoes.
Through it all, many employers struggled to find workers as the U.S. continued to enjoy one of its longest ever economic expansions.
Here are the business stories that made headlines in 2018:
Even amid a labor crunch, Iowa workers saw little movement in wages
Iowa unemployment rates continued to crater in 2018, causing headaches for employers looking to hire. October's 2.4 percent unemployment rate was the state's lowest in 18 years and matched the lowest figure since tracking began in 1976.
While employers have long used interesting perks like unlimited vacation time to recruit new hires, the current labor crunch pushed those efforts even further:
- Dee Zee Manufacturing spent some $60,000 to expand city bus service to its Des Moines plant.
- Hy-Vee introduced a health care benefit for its 58,000 part-time workers.
- And Waukee insurance company Holmes Murphy purchased a dog to roam its office hallways as yet another workplace benefit.
But even as Iowa employers struggled to find qualified people, wages remained stubbornly stagnant for many average workers. A 2018 study from United Ways of Iowa found that nearly 40 percent of Iowans struggled to afford the basic costs of living.