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Greater Des Moines (DSM) is home to many business successes and has received numerous accolades over the past several years. These recognitions include being named one of the top 10 best cities to live and work, one of the best cities for jobs, one of the top 10 places with the most job opportunities per capita and a top metro for economic development projects (Site Selection). Such accomplishments can be attributed to DSM's talented workforce, impressive education ranking and strong business economy. The following economic, demographic and workforce data support DSM's successes and reputation as one of the best regions for business.

For more information, contact Marlena Bandurski, Research Manager for Economic Development.



DSM comprises ten counties — Adair, Dallas, Guthrie, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek and Warren — totaling 791,706 residents (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 estimate).

For detailed demographics and free ESRI reports on the region, its counties and communities, access the Areas tab in the LocationOne Information System (LOIS).

Cost Data

DSM celebrates its competitive business costs and affordable cost of living that help make it a top 10 city in which to live and work.

Request the Doing Business in DSM Prospectus for more information.

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Cost of Living

For DSM residents, it is typical to find combined living cost savings 10% below the national average, according to quarterly surveys by The Council for Community and Economic Research.

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Compare prices from approximately 300 urban areas and the U.S. to those in DSM.

Business Costs

According to Moody's Analytics, the cost of doing business in DSM is currently 13% lower than that of the nation as a whole. The 2021 Standard New Employer Unemployment Insurance Tax rate for non-construction employers is 1.0 % on a $32,400 taxable wage base.

Economic Indicators

Economic indicators ranging from growth in the workforce to population change to the number of building permits document DSM's momentum. The DSM USA Research, Stats & Data Hub displays hundreds of custom charts, graphs and data downloads for use in analysis and presentations.

In addition to the extensive resources in the Data Hub, the Economic Overview report (JobsEQ) provides a comprehensive comparison of the DSM region, MSA and U.S., including wage rates and forecast data.

Workforce Facts


DSM's specialized, highly educated workforce makes locating or expanding a business in the region even more enticing. Iowa’s public high school graduation rate is highest in the nation at 91% (2017), with a regional average rate of nearly 5 points above the U.S. Approximately 37% of the regional workforce has attained at least a bachelor's degree. The metro area’s productivity rate also tops the U.S. figure (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). 

According to 2017 Greater Des Moines Workforce Analysis, the estimated potential labor force in the commute zone is 644,590. Major employers from key industries around the region tap into Iowa's talent to make their businesses more efficient and profitable. DSM also offers screening, assessment and testing services so that companies can select the right people, plus training and reimbursements allow companies to save valuable time to train these workers up front. 

Thanks to Iowa's job training program and campaigns such as EDGE, local internship programs and higher education institutions that work closely with local companies to collaborate to create curriculum programs based on key industry needs, DSM’s labor force is thriving and continues to increase in size.

DSM Small Business Jobs Report

Download the 2018 DSM Small Business Jobs Report to see how small business leadership is being empowered throughout the region.