February 25, 2024

Central Iowa financial industry slows amid tight employment, cutbacks

The only reminder of the once-bustling Nationwide Insurance office complex at 1200 Locust St. in Des Moines is the outline of the company's name on a dismantled sign.
  • A boom in financial industry growth in the Des Moines metro is fading
  • Local and state leaders say a tight labor market, remote work and other factors are sapping the once robust growth of the city’s banking, investment and insurance companies

When Wells Fargo & Co. announced another round of cuts last fall, losing its place as Des Moines’ biggest private employer, it signaled a larger problem for the local economy. 

The problem has been six years in the making, a Des Moines Register analysis and interviews with 25 executives, government officials and economists found.

After decades of strong job growth in the financial sector ― far outpacing the country overall ― the industry has shrunk in the Des Moines metro.  

Since July 2017, local financial activities employers have shed a total of 2,500 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The cuts mark a 4% drop in total employment over the last 6½ years. 

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