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Iowa's Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.3 Percent in January

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: March 13, 2017
Contact: Cory Kelly
Telephone: 515-330-5646

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.3 Percent in January

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.3 percent in January. The state’s jobless rate was 3.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 4.8 percent in January.

“Following a volatile year’s end to 2016, the Iowa economy began 2017 on a much stronger note,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped even further to 3.3 percent in January and Iowa employers added 9,900 jobs. Hiring was particularly strong in professional and business services as well as the leisure and hospitality industries.”

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 56,600 in January from 59,000 in December. The current estimate is 7,900 lower than the year ago level of 64,500. The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,637,600 in January. This figure was 3,000 higher than December and 100 lower than one year ago.

Monthly labor force data have been revised for 2012-2016 as required by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Benchmarking is the process of re-estimating statistics as more complete data becomes available.  Prior year’s estimates for the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) programs are benchmarked annually.  In March, the revised data is incorporated with the January employment statistics.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

In January, total nonfarm employment advanced by 9,900 jobs in Iowa. The monthly gain was historically large and provided some relief following a weak end to 2016 that saw 600 jobs pared over the final five months. Following the yearly benchmark process, Iowa had nonfarm employment lowered approximately 0.7 percent; however, the January increase helped alleviate most of the downward revision. All of the growth this month was due to hiring in the private sector; government was down 200 jobs in January but remains up 1,300 jobs since last January.

Professional and business services added the most jobs in January (+3,000) and had advances in the two largest sectors this month: professional, scientific, and technical services (+1,500) and administrative support and waste management (+1,600). This month’s increase marks the third consecutive gain for the sector. Leisure and hospitality also had a large gain this month (+2,800) due in part to unusually warm weather. Restaurants, lodging, and recreational activities all showed signs of hiring this month. Retail added 900 jobs and helped fuel a gain of 1,200 in trade and transportation. Compared to last year, Iowa’s retail sector has gained 1,600 jobs and has fared better than expected through the holiday shopping season. Virtually all other private sectors added jobs this month including manufacturing (+1,100), education and healthcare services (+1,100), and financial activities (+600). The lone sector to shed jobs in January was construction, down a slight 100 jobs.

Annually, Iowa has advanced 13,400 jobs (+0.9 percent). The professional and business services sector has been expanding recently and is up 4,200 to lead all other sectors. Leisure and hospitality has benefitted from growth in three of the last four months and is up 3,200 jobs versus last January. Most of the gains stem from hiring in lodging and restaurants while entertainment and recreational activities are little changed. Finance is up 3,000 jobs annually and has gained jobs in five consecutive months. This sector has steadily trended up over the past few years. The only private sectors to pare employment versus last year were manufacturing (-3,500), due primarily to cutbacks in durable goods factories, and information services (-1,300).

MEDIA ALERT:  An audio cut of comments about Iowa’s labor market situation is available by calling (515) 281-6057. Statewide data for February 2017 will be released on Friday, March 24, 2017. Local data for February will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  January December January December January
  2017 2016 2016 2016 2016
Civilian labor force 1,694,200 1,693,600 1,702,200 600 -8,000
Unemployment 56,600 59,000 64,500 -2,400 -7,900
Unemployment rate 3.3% 3.5% 3.8% -0.2 -0.5
Employment 1,637,600 1,634,600 1,637,700 3,000 -100
U.S. unemployment rate 4.8% 4.7% 4.9% 0.1 -0.1
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,581,700 1,571,800 1,568,300 9,900 13,400
Mining 2,500 2,300 2,200 200 300
Construction 81,000 81,100 79,900 -100 1,100
Manufacturing 212,000 210,900 215,500 1,100 -3,500
Trade, transportation and utilities 318,200 317,000 315,400 1,200 2,800
Information 21,900 21,700 23,200 200 -1,300
Financial activities 110,600 110,000 107,600 600 3,000
Professional and business           
    services 142,200 139,200 138,000 3,000 4,200
Education and health services 229,300 228,200 228,000 1,100 1,300
Leisure and hospitality 145,500 142,700 142,300 2,800 3,200
Other services 60,200 60,200 59,200 0 1,000
Government 258,300 258,500 257,000 -200 1,300
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  January December January December January
  2017 2016 2016 2016 2016
Initial claims 15,756 29,296 17,704 -46.2% -11.0%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 47,551 33,472 50,342 42.1% -5.5%
     Weeks paid 150,958 106,093 152,612 42.3% -1.1%
     Amount paid $57,748,242 $39,746,565 $55,749,721 45.3% 3.6%