IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

Many farmers are going to lose money on this year's huge harvest because prices are lower than they have been.

Farm bill subsidy programs, which kick in when the average national price of a commodity drops below a certain price, will almost certainly be triggered this year for corn and soybeans. But it is not yet clear the extent to which those programs will help.

"It's going to help, but it's still not going to get the help above the cost of production," says Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. 

Photo by Frank Morris for Harvest Public Media

China's rapid industrialization and economic expansion over the past few decades has been a boon for U.S. farmers — especially soybean farmers. But China's economy is slowing down, leaving American farmers exposed to the downside of being tied to the world's second largest economy.

With tall stands of corn and green soybean fields stretching for miles, the river bottom land around Langdon, Mo., seems a long, long way from Beijing. In an economic sense, though, it's practically right next door. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Economics teachers across the country use blackboards and chalk to teach people about supply and demand. The Planet Money team hands out candy to seventh graders.

Planet Money, a twice weekly podcast from NPR, sprung from an episode of This American Life that explained the subprime mortgage crisis. For the past six years, they’ve covered everything from the history of light to toxic assets, all to make the economy and finance more understandable to the average person.

Jason Parks

Finding a trustworthy and affordable child care provider is one of the biggest challenges working parents face. At the same time, providers are asked to do demanding and important work for little pay.

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that problem, says infant and toddler consultant Beth Walling.

"It's like trying to tackle poverty," she says.

Walling is especially concerned, since studies show there's an achievement gap that exists at 10 months of age.

"A 3-year-old’s vocabulary can predict their third grade reading level."

Premium Processing

Nov 11, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Central Iowa is about to get a much needed economic shot in the arm as a long awaited beef processing plant opens its doors providing hundreds of new jobs. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Economics teachers across the country use blackboards and chalk to teach people about supply and demand. The Planet Money team hands out candy to seventh graders.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

After speaking with at least half of the administrative law judges who rule cases for unemployment disputes, State Senator Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo) says he’s gathered evidence that the head of Iowa Workforce Development has pressured judges to rule against employees hoping to receive unemployment insurance benefits.  


How does where someone is born affect how much money they'll earn over a lifetime? What does income inequality indicate about a country's society and basic economic health?

Branko Milanovic tackles these questions as a lead economist in the World Bank's research department, where he works on the topics of income inequality and globalization.


In last month’s State of the Union address, President Obama said this year he hoped to strengthen and build ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Host Ben Kieffer talks with University of Iowa sociologist Kevin Leicht and John Gallo of the Henry B. Tippie College of Business.

Thiago Pompeu

For this News Buzz show, Ben Kieffer talks with a variety of guests about new jobs numbers, the 51% four-year graduation rate at the University of Iowa, Matt Schultz running for congress, the Director of Iowa's Public Health Department resigning, new rules for teen drivers, concerns about ice on the Missouri River, an ice fishing update, and the remarkable beginning for ISU Cyclone men's and women's basketball.

HarvardEthics / flickr

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich joins host Ben Kieffer to talk about the film "Inequality for All," in which Reich outlines what he sees as an economic and social problem due to a growing disparity in Americans' incomes. In the second half of the show, hear some analysis of the issue and get an Iowa perspective. 

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

One of the companies banking on Iowa’s wind energy industry is Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based operation with plans to build five large-scale high voltage transmission lines in the country. As Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren reports, one of those lines would traverse Iowa, and it starts in the northwest corner of the state. 

Men Hold Two-Thirds of Management Jobs in Iowa

Sep 26, 2013
SalFalko / Flickr

There are far more men than women in top management jobs in Iowa, according to a new report.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal advocacy group, has released a "State of Women in America" report. It found men hold 67 percent of managerial jobs in Iowa as top administrators in the public and private sectors.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Bill Hrybyk / Flickr

The national unemployment rate is 7.6% and in Iowa the rate is at 4.6 %. Recent college graduates and seasoned workers alike are working hard to make a living wage. Host Ben Kieffer looks at how Iowans are getting their foot in the door via internships and working as temporary employees. 


This week, the social networking site Facebook announced plans to build a $1.5 billion data center in Altoona, IA.  On the same day, Google announced a $400 million expansion to its data facility in Council Bluffs. Iowa has a growing tech industry.  What makes Iowa an attractive place for companies like Google and Facebook?  Also, hear about our homegrown technology companies like INVOLTA.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa City is testing new parking meters for their downtown shopping district, known as smart meters. They take credit cards and allow parkers to pay with their phones, and are slowly popping up in communities throughout Iowa.

But the hard part is often teaching people how to use them.

John Pemble / IPR

It looks like smooth sailing for a bill at the statehouse to let Iowa’s  job creation experts hand out more tax credits to potential employers.    Officials say the current cap on credits isn’t enough to meet the demand, as more companies are looking to expand.    But not everyone agrees with  a plan to make sure the employers  come through with the jobs they promise.  

Rural Post Offices in Crisis

Mar 25, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

It’s mid-morning on a bleak March day in Nilwood, Ill. And every 10 minutes or so, a car or truck pulls into the gravel parking lot in front of the south-central Illinois town’s post office.   

Rush hour.

Because there is no mail delivery here, the town’s 236 residents must stop in to the post office to stay connected. Staffed by one full-time postmaster and one relief person, this office provides mail service six days a week.    As in many rural communities across the country, the post office serves as an informal community center.

Ralph Nader's book titled, "The Seventeen Solutions"
Ralph Nader / Harper Collins Publishers

The Atlantic named Ralph Nader one of the 100 most influential figures in American history. A political activist and five-time presidential candidate, Nader talks with host Ben Kieffer about his new book "The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future."

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

Living in a swing state means never-ending TV ads, lots of attention from the candidates, and dozens of campaign offices spread all over your state. 

But all that spending isn’t exactly trickling down to small businesses in local communities.

Instead, most of the spending goes to TV ads.

Drought And The Economy

Sep 14, 2012
Theresa Wysocki / Flickr

What is the economic impact of this year’s drought? When it comes to food prices, agricultural experts and analysts say it means a spike due to soaring corn prices, but consumers may not see higher prices in the grocery store until 2013. Then we look at other economic factors in the Midwest, including how the 2012 Presidential Election could affect crude oil prices.

Clay Masters / IPR

Both the Republican and Democratic national conventions are over. And both presidential candidates were in Iowa yesterday.  Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were using new jobs numbers to sway voters.

More than 8,000 people crowded outside Jessup Hall at the University of Iowa. A late afternoon rain soaked the crowd… many dressed in Hawkeye yellow and black as well as ponchos.  But the sky cleared up for Vice President Joe Biden to introduce the president.

Clay Masters / IPR

President Barack Obama made a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids Tuesday. He spent a lot of time discussing his call this week to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to the middle class. He also addressed the economy… something his presumptive GOP opponent, Mitt Romney has attacked him on. And as Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, how he addresses the lagging economy could be what makes or breaks his reelection.  

        In the Quad Cities, Davenport’s St. Ambrose University will soon be opening a new program for training physician assistants.
      The job market is good for the female-dominated profession, but class sizes are limited.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

President Obama is becoming a familiar face in Iowa again. Yesterday, he made his third visit to the state this year, which he won in 2008.
Mr. Obama discussed renewable energy at a manufacturing plant in Newton before rallying about 2500 supporters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

If Mr. Obama’s job four years ago was to woo voters, this time the message is more like “I Still Need You.”

"This election’s gonna be even closer than the last one. And by the way the last one was close. People don’t remember, it was close," he says.

With all the gloomy news about job prospects these days, seniors can feel like their diploma is a one-way ticket to mom’s basement. But there are young adults who’ve landed on their feet – and learned how to make it in this tough economy.

In the past week, scores of people have been killed and injured by tornadoes in the Midwest and South. Ben Kieffer talks with meteorologist Alan Czarnetzki of the University of Northern Iowa about the series of deadly storms and the weather outlook in Iowa as we approach spring. Ben will also talk with the Director of Iowa's Economic Development Authority Debi Durham about growing Iowa's economy and its population.

Gas prices are at record highs for this time of year, and experts predict the rise won't be ending soon. We'll examine what's driving current crude oil prices and what it means for Iowa's economy with the Iowa Department of Agriculture's Harold Hommes and Creighton University Economics Professor Ernie Goss. Later, the Iowa DNR has been surveying groundwater supplies across the state. Results indicate some Iowa cities need to start planning immediately to drill new wells or to pipe in water from new resources.