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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.9 Percent in February

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: March 23, 2018
Contact: Cory Kelly
Telephone: 515-330-5646

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Status of the Iowa Workforce

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.9 Percent in February

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.9 percent in February. The state’s jobless rate was 3.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent in February.

"Despite low numbers of unemployed workers in Iowa, businesses continued to hire employees including in the manufacturing, transportation, and administrative industries," said Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development Director. "Iowa's economy continues to grow because of strong job growth in manufacturing and finance over the past year. These two high-wage sectors are crucial to raising incomes in Iowa and demonstrate again the need for Future Ready Iowa to insure the state can meet the increasing need for skilled workers."

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 47,900 in February from 48,300 in January. The current estimate is 8,500 lower than the year ago level of 56,400. 

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,625,600 in February. This figure was 500 higher than January and the same as one year ago.   

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

In February, Iowa establishments added 2,500 jobs to their payrolls, lifting total nonfarm employment up to 1,582,700 jobs. The monthly gain follows a downward revision in January in which 2,400 jobs were pared. Private industries were responsible for all of the growth in February; government lost jobs in several segments and shed 1,000 jobs combined. Overall, government has added a slight 500 jobs versus last February.

Administrative support and waste management businesses added the most jobs in February (+1,000). Much of the monthly gain could be attributed to hiring in temporary staffing agencies, although janitorial services also showed some promise and expanded payrolls in February. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities also fared well due to expansion within trucking industries (+900). Durable goods factories continued to trend upward and added 600 jobs. Some of these added jobs were in machinery and fabricated metal product shops. Manufacturing’s other component, nondurable goods, didn’t fare as well and was down slightly versus January. Other gains this month included healthcare and social assistance, accommodations and food services, and professional, scientific and technical services. Alternatively, construction again shed jobs in February, now marking the fourth-consecutive loss stretching back to October. Although declines were evident in several industries, commercial building construction experienced larger-than-expected layoffs this month. Other losses were small in magnitude and included other services and retail trade.

Compared to last February, total nonfarm employment has shown some improvement with 9,900 jobs added. Growth has mostly been concentrated within private service sectors (+5,700), although goods-producing industries have also trended up (+3,700) thanks entirely to Iowa’s rapidly expanding manufacturing employment (+7,500). This super sector has now added jobs in thirteen-consecutive months spanning back to last February. Healthcare and social assistance has also shown consistent growth and is up 3,100 jobs. Accommodations and food services are up 2,900 jobs following an unusually prosperous fourth quarter. Conversely, losses have been dominated by construction, now down 6,700 jobs, annually. Private education lags behind last February by 3,200 jobs, and retail continues to post weaker payroll counts as time progresses and is trailing last year’s mark by 3,100 jobs.

MEDIA ALERT:  An audio cut of comments about Iowa’s labor market situation is available by calling (515) 281-6057. Statewide data for March 2018 will be released on Friday, April 20, 2018. Local data for March will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  February January February January February
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Civilian labor force 1,673,500 1,673,400 1,682,000 100 -8,500
Unemployment 47,900 48,300 56,400 -400 -8,500
Unemployment rate 2.9% 2.9% 3.4% 0.0 -0.5
Employment 1,625,600 1,625,100 1,625,600 500 0
U.S. unemployment rate 4.1% 4.1% 4.7% 0.0 -0.6
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,582,700 1,580,200 1,572,800 2,500 9,900
Mining 2,400 2,300 2,400 100 0
Construction 72,000 72,600 78,700 -600 -6,700
Manufacturing 223,900 223,400 213,500 500 10,400
Trade, transportation and utilities 314,900 314,100 315,700 800 -800
Information 21,700 21,500 21,900 200 -200
Financial activities 111,100 111,000 108,600 100 2,500
Professional and business services 142,000 140,600 138,600 1,400 3,400
Education and health services 232,900 232,100 233,000 800 -100
Leisure and hospitality 145,900 145,200 143,500 700 2,400
Other services 56,200 56,700 57,700 -500 -1,500
Government 259,700 260,700 259,200 -1,000 500
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  February January February January February
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Initial claims 8,792 17,367 9,164 -49.4% -4.1%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 36,782 43,994 41,939 -16.4% -12.3%
     Weeks paid 126,140 159,338 142,543 -20.8% -11.5%
     Amount paid $49,966,106 $62,827,089 $55,064,852 -20.5% -9.3%