Iowa's Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 2.4 Percent in April

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: May 17, 2019
Contact: Communications Bureau
Telephone: 515-281-9646

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 2.4 Percent in April

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.4 percent in April. The state’s jobless rate was 2.6 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in April.

"April marks the tenth consecutive month of this historically low unemployment rate," said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. "The fact that more than 30,000 Iowans are working than a year ago speaks volumes about the resilience and expansion of Iowa’s economy considering the extreme weather conditions in the past 6 months. The legislature’s commitment to fund Future Ready Iowa will have significant positive impact on our ability to create the skilled workforce we so clearly need."

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 40,400 in April from 40,500 in March.  The current estimate is 4,200 lower than the year ago level of 44,600.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,670,200 in April. This figure was 4,600 higher than March and 30,100 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Business establishments in Iowa added jobs for the first time this year in April, increasing by 4,700 jobs. Flooding that threatened western Iowa towards the end of March didn’t play much of a factor in the overall job totals, but may reveal the true impacts on the economy as time goes on. Growth this month was fueled by private industry, especially goods-producing sectors. Government shed 200 jobs since March and is down 1,000 jobs versus last year. Total nonfarm employment overall is up 10,900 jobs from one year ago.

Construction advanced the most in April following overall weak showings during the past few months (+2,600). Weather in Iowa has been unusually cold and rainy to start the year, so a late start for new construction projects was expected. The trade, transportation, and utilities super sector advanced by 1,200 jobs and was fueled by growth in transportation and warehousing. This super sector has shown some recent weakness in retail trade due to consumer preferences shifting away from brick and mortar establishments. Smaller gains this month included rebounds in manufacturing (+900) and professional and business services (+900). Both sectors previously shed jobs over the past few months. On the other hand, leisure and hospitality got off to a slow start this spring and shed 900 jobs. Arts, entertainment, and recreation were responsible for most of the loss in April. The financial super sector lost 500 jobs and has now decreased in three of the last four months. This super sector has been relatively flat over the past year following steady growth in years prior.

Since last April, manufacturing continues to lead all sectors in annual growth (+7,700). Even with potential risks in the economy, Iowa’s durable and nondurable goods factories have been resilient with their production and expansion. Professional and business services are up 2,100 jobs over the past twelve months. The professional, scientific, and technical services sector alone has gained 900 jobs. Construction is back into the positive annually (+2,000) following a large monthly gain.

MEDIA ALERT:  Local data for April will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.  Statewide data for May 2019 will be released on Friday, June 21, 2019.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  April March April March April
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Civilian labor force 1,710,600 1,706,100 1,684,700 4,500 25,900
Unemployment 40,400 40,500 44,600 -100 -4,200
Unemployment rate 2.4% 2.4% 2.6% 0.0 -0.2
Employment 1,670,200 1,665,600 1,640,100 4,600 30,100
U.S. unemployment rate 3.6% 3.8% 3.9% -0.2 -0.3
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,589,200 1,584,500 1,578,300 4,700 10,900
Mining 2,500 2,500 2,500 0 0
Construction 77,400 74,800 75,400 2,600 2,000
Manufacturing 228,700 227,800 221,000 900 7,700
Trade, transportation and utilities 311,900 310,700 312,400 1,200 -500
Information 21,300 21,500 22,100 -200 -800
Financial activities 108,600 109,100 108,700 -500 -100
Professional and business services 142,400 141,500 140,300 900 2,100
Education and health services 235,600 235,200 234,600 400 1,000
Leisure and hospitality 143,400 144,300 143,300 -900 100
Other services 57,900 57,400 57,500 500 400
Government 259,500 259,700 260,500 -200 -1,000
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  April March April March April
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Initial claims 8,668 9,685 7,480 -10.5% 15.9%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 27,834 35,571 27,767 -21.8% 0.2%
     Weeks paid 78,767 117,730 82,506 -33.1% -4.5%
     Amount paid $31,196,451 $47,763,210 $31,996,414 -34.7% -2.5%