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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.6 Percent in December

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: January 24, 2017
Contact: Courtney Maxwell Greene
Telephone: 515-281-9646

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.6 Percent in December​

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in December. The state’s jobless rate was 3.5 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 4.7 percent in December.

“Iowa’s economy received a boost in December as businesses added jobs and unemployment eased to 3.6 percent,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “While Iowa’s economy has grown at a slower rate than in the past, growth in construction, finance and healthcare offset losses in other areas. Time will tell if the growth seen in December will continue and expand in 2017.”

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 61,200 in December from 65,100 in November. The current estimate is 1,800 higher than the year ago level of 59,400.

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,650,800 in December. This figure was 4,000 lower than November and 4,800 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Total nonfarm employment added 1,900 jobs in December and will finish the year at 1,582,100 jobs. This month’s gain halts three consecutive months of losses among Iowa’s establishments. Within the private sector, goods-producing industry gains of 1,000 were exactly offset by service industry losses. Government added 1,900 jobs and was fueled by higher-than-expected growth at the local government level. Compared to last year, government has added 1,500 jobs.

The professional and business services sector added the most jobs in December (+1,300) and was fueled by hiring in professional, scientific, and technical services (+800). In total, 2,500 jobs have been added over the past two months for this sector. Manufacturing added 900 jobs following losses in the prior two months. The majority of the gain occurred in nondurable goods factories (+600). Although small, Iowa’s financial sector gained 300 jobs and marked three-consecutive months of gains. Other sectors adding jobs in December included education and healthcare services, construction, and other services. Alternatively, losses in December were heaviest in leisure and hospitality (-1,600) and due to larger-than-expected seasonal declines in accommodations and food services. Retail trade reflected another sluggish month of holiday sales and fueled a loss of 1,100 in trade and transportation. Weak retail hiring may be a symptom of consumers bypassing brick-and-mortal retail establishments in favor of online retailers. The only other decline this month occurred in information services (-300).

Despite layoffs over the past several months, Iowa remains up 8,200 jobs annually. Individually, no sector has added more jobs than construction (+6,900). This sector added almost half of all the jobs gained (42 percent) versus last December. Finance remains markedly up (+4,400) and has displayed strong hiring throughout this past year, as did education and healthcare (+3,900). Despite this month’s gain, manufacturing still remains strikingly lower than last year’s mark (-7,000). Losses have been evenly split between durable and nondurable factory jobs. Information services is second in annual losses (-1,400), although much of this loss is due to streamlining of services and a change in how information is being used by customers. Professional and business services has recovered somewhat during the past couple months and is now down just 900 jobs following a turbulent year with losses peaking at 3,700 jobs a few months ago.

MEDIA ALERT:  An audio cut of comments about Iowa’s labor market situation is available by calling (515) 281-6057. Statewide and local data for January 2017 will be released on Monday, March 13, 2017.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  December November December November December
  2016 2016 2015 2016 2015
Civilian labor force 1,712,100 1,720,000 1,705,400 -7,900 6,700
Unemployment 61,200 65,100 59,400 -3,900 1,800
Unemployment rate 3.6% 3.8% 3.5% -0.2 0.1
Employment 1,650,800 1,654,800 1,646,000 -4,000 4,800
U.S. unemployment rate 4.7% 4.6% 5.0% 0.1 -0.3
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,582,100 1,580,200 1,573,900 1,900 8,200
Mining 2,200 2,200 2,300 0 -100
Construction 89,800 89,700 82,900 100 6,900
Manufacturing 208,700 207,800 215,700 900 -7,000
Trade, transportation and utilities 316,900 318,000 317,200 -1,100 -300
Information 22,500 22,800 23,900 -300 -1,400
Financial activities 111,300 111,000 106,900 300 4,400
Professional and business           
    services 138,700 137,400 139,600 1,300 -900
Education and health services 230,500 230,200 226,600 300 3,900
Leisure and hospitality 141,900 143,500 141,600 -1,600 300
Other services 63,300 63,200 62,400 100 900
Government 256,300 254,400 254,800 1,900 1,500
(above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  December November December November December
  2016 2016 2015 2016 2015
Initial claims 29,296 15,247 32,900 92.1% -11.0%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 33,472 23,064 36,286 45.1% -7.8%
     Weeks paid 106,093 80,337 130,153 32.1% -18.5%
     Amount paid $39,746,565 $29,486,592 $46,324,187 34.8% -14.2%