Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains Steady in February

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: March 22, 2019
Contact: Communications Bureau
Telephone: 515-281-9646

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains Steady in February

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.4 percent in February. The state’s jobless rate was 2.7 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in February. 

"Despite the brutal winter we have had the past two months, the unemployment rate remains steady at 2.4 percent. Remarkably, we have maintained that rate since June, 2018," said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. "The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,660,100 which is 5,700 higher than January and 25,500 higher than one year ago. In even more good news, the biggest segment of Iowans who found employment in February are those who have been out-of-the-workforce for more than 12 months. If you're an employer looking for workers, stop by or call one of our IowaWORKS Centers around the state and let us put our top notch business service specialists to work for you. If you are looking for a better job or your next job opportunity, we can help you update your resume and sharpen your interview skills as well as assist you in finding new training opportunities available around the state. The time is now to become Future Ready!

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 40,000 in February from 40,600 in January.  The current estimate is 6,100 lower than the year ago level of 46,100.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,660,100 in February. This figure was 5,700 higher than January and 25,500 higher than one year ago. 

 Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

In February, Iowa establishments cut payrolls leading to a drop of 5,500 jobs in total nonfarm employment. This was the first monthly drop since September and fueled by losses in private services. Unusually cold and forbidding winter weather may have had some influence on payrolls. Both construction and leisure and hospitality had losses this month. Private sectors accounted for most of the drop this month (-5,000); however, government also decreased slightly due to losses at the local level (-800). Compared to last year, government is now down 1,900 jobs due mostly to cutbacks at the state level and Iowa total nonfarm employment combined is up just 5,800 jobs (+0.4 percent).

Leisure and hospitality pared the most jobs in February (-2,400) with virtually all of the losses stemming from accommodations and food services. Eating and drinking establishments contracted this month, but should rebound in March when the weather supports more traffic and with regional basketball tournaments in the Des Moines area. This super sector has displayed mixed signals over the past several months and shrank slightly versus last year. Trade, transportation, and utilities shed 1,500 jobs due mostly to declines in transportation and warehousing (-900), although retail continued to trend down in February (-700). This was the first monthly loss for this super sector since October. Smaller monthly losses this month included professional and business services (-900), construction (-400), and education and health services (-300). Only three sectors added jobs this month. Other services added 400 jobs to lead all sectors. The financial services sector gained 200 jobs but has shown evidence of tapering down following expansion over the past several years. Natural resources and mining added 100 jobs.

Compared to last February, manufacturing continues to lead all sectors in job growth (+8,400). All other super sector gains are small by comparison and include professional and business services (+600) and construction (+400). The largest notable losses in Iowa’s economy occur in retail trade (-3,000) and accommodations and food services (-1,700).

MEDIA ALERT:  Local data for February will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.  Statewide data for March 2019 will be released on Friday, April 19, 2019.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  February January February January February
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Civilian labor force 1,700,200 1,695,000 1,680,600 5,200 19,600
Unemployment 40,000 40,600 46,100 -600 -6,100
Unemployment rate 2.4% 2.4% 2.7% 0.0 -0.3
Employment 1,660,100 1,654,400 1,634,600 5,700 25,500
U.S. unemployment rate 3.8% 4.0% 4.1% -0.2 -0.3
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,587,900 1,593,400 1,582,100 -5,500 5,800
Mining 2,600 2,500 2,500 100 100
Construction 76,700 77,100 76,300 -400 400
Manufacturing 228,800 228,900 220,400 -100 8,400
Trade, transportation and utilities 312,800 314,300 313,100 -1,500 -300
Information 21,500 21,600 22,100 -100 -600
Financial activities 109,400 109,200 109,100 200 300
Professional and business services 142,100 143,000 141,500 -900 600
Education and health services 234,400 234,700 235,400 -300 -1,000
Leisure and hospitality 143,600 146,000 143,900 -2,400 -300
Other services 57,500 57,100 57,400 400 100
Government 258,500 259,000 260,400 -500 -1,900
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  February January February January February
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Initial claims 9,665 18,768 8,792 -48.5% 9.9%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 38,000 40,985 36,782 -7.3% 3.3%
     Weeks paid 129,440 149,070 126,140 -13.2% 2.6%
     Amount paid $52,403,981 $59,267,019 $49,966,106 -11.6% 4.9%