Iowa’s shortage of jobs requiring high skill levels is a major cause of the state’s loss of workers to other states, Iowa State University researchers found in a new study.

The report measured Iowa’s competitiveness in attracting those workers. 

Dave Swenson, an associate scientist of economics, and Liesl Eathington, an assistant scientist of economics, found that overall the state gains more workers than it loses. 

An analysis of skill levels added context. 

Iowa’s greatest gain between 2011 and 2015 was among workers under age 44 with only a high school diploma, and its greatest loss was among workers who had a four-year or greater degree. 

In a statement, Swenson said the data show Iowa produces more educated employees than needed in the current economy. The state has fewer jobs that require a college degree as compared with the national average, he said.

“We have two problems,” Swenson said. “One, our economy still has a strong manufacturing and agricultural base and cannot use all these workers. Two, our economy is not going to rapidly transition into that new phase; it is moving very slowly toward the national average.”