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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Decreases to 2.8 Percent in March

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: April 20, 2023
Contact: Jesse Dougherty
Telephone: 515-725-5487

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Decreases to 2.8 Percent in March
Labor Force Participation Rises to 68.2 Percent

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 2.8 percent in March from 2.9 percent in February. In comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent in March from 3.6 percent in February.

The state’s labor force added 2,700 new workers. The labor force participation rate increased to 68.2 percent last month.

The total number of working Iowans rose to 1,675,500 in March. This figure is 4,400 higher than February and 2,000 higher than one year ago.

“March’s strong numbers across the board again demonstrate that Iowa’s economy continues to trend in the right direction,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Many Iowa industries still feel economic pressure from ongoing inflation. Regardless of national headwinds, Iowa’s employers continue to hire – especially in health care, education, and manufacturing. Whether you’re looking for that first job or your next great job, the time remains right to take advantage of these tremendous opportunities.”

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa establishments added 2,900 jobs in March following little movement in February, lifting total nonfarm to 1,592,900 jobs. Most sectors expanded their payrolls this month with the largest gains being within education, health care, and manufacturing. Service sectors were responsible for most of the jobs gained, although goods-producing industries also increased in March. Private sector employers added most of the jobs, but government also increased this month (+300) and is now up 5,000 jobs compared to last year while total nonfarm employment added 26,000 jobs.

Health care and social assistance added the most jobs this month (+1,000), more than offsetting a loss of 700 jobs in February. Nursing and residential care facilities were responsible for most of the jobs added. Manufacturing also rose in March (+700). Durable goods shops fueled most of the jobs gained. Following a weak fourth quarter for manufacturers, this year has begun on a prosperous note with 1,900 jobs gained over the last three months. Financial activities also added jobs (+600) with gains in both credit intermediation and related activities and insurance. Professional and business services gained 400 jobs and was bolstered by hiring in professional, scientific, and technical services. Job losses, conversely, were light in March and led by transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-1,000). Firms related to transportation and warehousing have shown weakness lately with 3,600 jobs lost over the past six months.

Over the past twelve months health care and social assistance has gained the most jobs (+6,200). Following a sluggish recovery from social distancing measures of 2020, this sector has now trended up over the past twelve months. Private education is up 4,100 jobs. This sector has benefitted from in-person learning and was also slow to return from COVID safety measures. Firms within leisure and hospitality industries continue to climb with 5,100 jobs added since last March. Both manufacturing and construction have gained jobs to begin the year and are now up 3,900 and 3,800 jobs, respectively. The only supersector to show signs of weakness is trade, transportation, and utilities with 3,300 jobs pared over the past twelve months. Both transportation and warehousing and retail are down compared to last March.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  March February March February March
  2023 2023 2022 2023 2022
Civilian labor force 1,723,800 1,721,100 1,713,900 2,700 9,900
Unemployment 48,300 50,100 40,300 -1,800 8,000
Unemployment rate 2.8% 2.9% 2.4% -0.1 0.4
Employment 1,675,500 1,671,100 1,673,500 4,400 2,000
Labor Force Participation Rate 68.2% 68.1% 68.1% 0.1 0.1
U.S. unemployment rate 3.5% 3.6% 3.6% -0.1 -0.1
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,592,900 1,590,000 1,566,900 2,900 26,000
Mining 2,400 2,500 2,200 -100 200
Construction 84,700 84,800 80,900 -100 3,800
Manufacturing 226,100 225,400 222,200 700 3,900
Trade, transportation and utilities 311,400 312,500 314,700 -1,100 -3,300
Information 19,100 19,000 19,100 100 0
Financial activities 109,000 108,400 108,800 600 200
Professional and business services 146,000 145,600 145,900 400 100
Education and health services 235,700 234,200 225,400 1,500 10,300
Leisure and hospitality 141,400 141,200 136,300 200 5,100
Other services 56,500 56,100 55,800 400 700
Government 260,600 260,300 255,600 300 5,000
(above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  March February March February March
  2023 2023 2022 2023 2022
Initial claims 7,744 7,591 6,923 2.0% 11.9%
Continued claims          
     Benefit recipients 24,771 25,596 25,239 -3.2% -1.9%
     Weeks paid 89,885 87,595 92,630 2.6% -3.0%
     Amount paid $44,456,467 $43,681,231 $43,724,537 1.8% 1.7%

Visit for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county. 

MEDIA ALERT:  Local data for March 2023 will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. Statewide data for April 2023 will be released on Thursday, May 18, 2023.