The Iowa Southwestern was completed in 1880 and some yards and a depot were constructed at the future location of Manning, in the summer of 1881. In 1881 the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad was also constructing a road across Iowa, south of and parallel to the Northwestern. These railroads interesected at what is now Manning.
Lee quoted Scott Dreier, "It's all about hurrying up to get the farming done so I can get to my job and get a paycheck. It becomes a rat race. It's a killer." Lee also interviewed Glen Ahrendsen who, having lost $30,000 on his hog operation as prices fell, had taken a second job at the Manning Regional Healthcare Facility. Lee notes, "On weekdays, the father sees his son for only 39 minutes." Lee spoke with farmer Andy Stangl who also works 52 hours a week at a feed mill in Arcadia. Stangl says, "I just want to be happy."
The article concluded with a quote by farmer Barry Kusel, "The family farm as we knew it, that's gone."
There were 650 households out of which 23.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.8% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.7% were non-families. 37.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 22.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.88.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 22.3% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 28.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 83.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,083, and the median income for a family was $43,021. Males had a median income of $28,214 versus $19,432 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,806. About 3.7% of families and 7.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.4% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.