Snapshot of Iowa’s Information Sector


What industries and activities are included within the information sector?

Information firms create, process, disseminate, or enable distribution of data, cultural products, and other information. The sector is a comparative newcomer to our industrial classification scheme, making its debut in 1997 with the introduction of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The new sector combined emerging industries such as cellular and wireless communications with established information-related industries that were previously classified within the manufacturing, transportation and utilities, and services sectors.

Publishers of newspapers, books, directories, and software have the largest employment share with 34 percent of information sector jobs (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Composition of Iowa's Information Sector.
Figure 1. Composition of Iowa’s Information Sector.

How many of these types of firms are located in Iowa?

Iowa had 1,477 information firms with employees on payroll in 2014 and another 2,198 firms operating as “nonemployer” establishments with no paid employees other than the owner(s). Telecommunications firms account for the largest share (42 percent) of employer establishments, while publishing firms account for the largest share (33 percent) of nonemployer establishments.


How does the information sector compare in size to the rest of Iowa’s economy?

The information sector’s 30,044 full-time and part-time jobs accounted for 1.5 percent of all Iowa jobs in 2014. In terms of establishments, the sector accounted for 1.8 percent of employer firms and 1.1 percent of nonemployers. Measured by gross domestic product (GDP), which includes payments to workers and returns to owners and investors, the information sector contributed approximately $4.6 billion to Iowa’s economy in 2015, or 2.6 percent of total GDP (see Table 1).

Table a. Information Sector Shares of Iowa Totals.
Table 1. Information Sector Shares of Iowa Totals.

Who works in Iowa’s information sector?

Nearly one-quarter of information sector jobs entail office or administrative support roles. Key occupations include customer service representatives, telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, office clerks, and advertising sales agents. Median annual pay for all occupations in the information sector was $39,760 in 2015.


How has the information sector been performing?

Iowa’s information sector employment decreased by nearly 20 percent from 2004 to 2014, far exceeding the national decline of 7 percent. Iowa also differed from the United States in the composition of its information job loss—publishing industries lost 60 percent of information sector jobs nationally, compared to just 30 percent in Iowa. Broadcasting jobs accounted for 6 percent of the losses in Iowa and 12 percent nationally. Nearly two-thirds of Iowa’s losses occurred in data processing and other information industries, compared to just 30 percent nationally. Figure 2 shows the percentage rates of 2004–2014 information job loss by broad category.

Figure 2. Rates of Information Sector Job Loss, 2004-2014.
Figure 2. Rates of Information Sector Job Loss, 2004-2014.


A version of this article was published in the Fall 2016 edition of CIRAS News. To read more of that edition or others, please explore elsewhere on our website.