Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.6 Percent

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: December 20, 2019
Contact: Molly Elder
Telephone: 515-725-4116

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.6 Percent

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained 2.6 percent in November. The state’s jobless rate was 2.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent in November.

“Despite a slight increase in the number of individuals unemployed, the total number of Iowans working continued to increase in November. Likewise, Iowa’s labor force participation rate increased as the state added 8,200 more workers than in October. In the past 12 months, Iowa has added 60,400 more Iowans into the workforce,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. “The interest and need in growing our skilled workforce remains at an all-time high as our unemployment rate remains low and we continuously have more openings than people to fill them. The statewide collaboration, support and participation in Future Ready Iowa is what is going to help Iowa close our skills gap and ensure continued economic growth."

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 46,200 in November from 45,100 in October. The current estimate is 5,900 higher than the year ago level of 40,300.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,711,700 in November. This figure was 8,200 higher than October and 60,400 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa establishments took a step back in November, shedding 1,500 jobs. This month’s decline is the first since March, although job gains have been getting smaller as the year concludes. The state has averaged 500 jobs added over the past three months before this month’s drop. Goods-producing shed 1,400 jobs over the past two months while service industries shed jobs for the first time since March. Government lost 500 jobs in November yet remains up annually with 2,400 jobs added since this point last year.

Within private sectors, 1,000 jobs were shed from Iowa payrolls in November. Financial services were the most affected (-1,500). This month’s decline is the second consecutive loss for this sector. Professional and business services also shed jobs this month (-800). Much of the monthly decline was rooted in administrative support and waste management services which has now trended down in three consecutive months. Smaller losses this month included construction (-600), trade and transportation (-200), and mining (-100).

Other services posted the largest monthly gain in November (+1,000). This sector has fared well recently thanks to increasing demand for personal services and repairs. The monthly gain is larger than expected and erases losses over the past three months. Health care and social assistance expanded payrolls for the third straight month and increased by 600 in November. Accommodations and food services got a boost from eating and drinking establishments and added 400 jobs. This is the second month in a row that accommodations and food services have added staff. Manufacturing showed a slight increase (+100), which was welcomed news following losses in each of the last four months.

Annually, Iowa has added 5,000 jobs compared to last year’s mark. Job gains have been highest in other services (+2,400) and related to personal services and repair. Health care and social assistance has fueled growth in the education and health services sector (+1,400), and construction remains up despite losses over the past few months (+1,100). Manufacturing now hovers just 800 jobs above last year’s mark as Iowa’s factories have started to show some apprehension about future demand for goods. Financial activities lead all sectors in job losses (-1,700) after two months of disappointing jobs reports for the sector.

MEDIA ALERT:  Statewide data for December 2019 will be released on Friday, January 24, 2020. Local data for December will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  November October November October November
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Civilian labor force 1,757,900 1,748,600 1,691,500 9,300 66,400
Unemployment 46,200 45,100 40,300 1,100 5,900
Unemployment rate 2.6% 2.6% 2.4% 0.0 0.2
Employment 1,711,700 1,703,500 1,651,300 8,200 60,400
U.S. unemployment rate 3.5% 3.6% 3.7% -0.1 -0.2
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,594,900 1,596,400 1,589,900 -1,500 5,000
Mining 2,300 2,400 2,500 -100 -200
Construction 79,800 80,400 78,700 -600 1,100
Manufacturing 228,200 228,100 227,400 100 800
Trade, transportation and utilities 312,500 312,700 313,500 -200 -1,000
Information 20,700 20,700 21,800 0 -1,100
Financial activities 107,500 109,000 109,200 -1,500 -1,700
Professional and business services 141,400 142,200 141,100 -800 300
Education and health services 235,600 234,800 234,200 800 1,400
Leisure and hospitality 144,500 144,200 143,900 300 600
Other services 59,900 58,900 57,500 1,000 2,400
Government 262,500 263,000 260,100 -500 2,400
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  November October November October November
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Initial claims 17,463 11,805 16,746 47.9% 4.3%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 19,433 17,387 16,466 11.8% 18.0%
     Weeks paid 54,367 58,455 49,692 -7.0% 9.4%
     Amount paid $21,751,911 $23,500,010 $18,626,684 -7.4% 16.8%