Iowa's Unemployment Rate Increases to 10.2 Percent in April

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: May 22, 2020
Contact: Molly Elder
Telephone: 515-725-4116

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Iowa's Unemployment Rate Increases to 10.2 Percent in April

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 10.2 percent in April. The state’s jobless rate was 2.7 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent in April.

“April is the first month we have seen the real impact of the pandemic on our unemployment rate. We remain hopeful that as we reopen the state and more people return to work, the rate will decrease quickly and this unprecedented rate will be a very temporary one,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. “The silver lining in this month's report is that over 1.5 million Iowans remained in the workforce despite the pandemic and this will do the most to decrease the recovery time. For Iowans returning to the workforce, we want to ensure employers and employees have the resources and information to help with this transition. If you have questions about returning to the workplace or the safety guidelines implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor, please review our FAQs and guidance on”.  

The number of unemployed Iowans jumped to 175,300 in April from 56,600 in March.  The current estimate is 128,300 higher than the year ago level of 47,000. 

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,536,200 in April. This figure was 129,200 less than March and 144,200 lower than one year ago. 

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa total nonfarm employment fell by 177,100 jobs in April as social distancing efforts to curtail spread of the coronavirus took effect. Obviously, this decline dwarfs anything we’ve seen historically and follows a loss of 8,900 in March which would have also been considered extremely large prior to this month. Overall, the state’s payrolls were trimmed by 11.3 percent versus last month, slightly lower than the U.S. drop of 13.5 percent in total nonfarm employment. Virtually every sector began working in a reduced capacity, although goods-producing sectors displayed a lower reduction of staff (-6.0 percent). Private service industries declined by 13.3 percent and were driven down by sizable layoffs and furloughs within hotels, restaurants, and entertainment industries. Government was also not spared, declining 9.4 percent or 24,500 jobs. Much of this reduction can be attributed to state universities and public schools dropping to summer levels. Most institutions ended in-person classes after spring break.

Accommodations and food services led all sectors with 56,400 jobs shed in April. The layoff was nearly half (-46.5 percent) of all staff on payroll in this sector as restrictions went into place and halted in-person dining. In total, leisure and hospitality shed 68,500 jobs (-48.9 percent), easily the most of any sector. Retail trade lost 22,300 (-12.8 percent) as non-essential stores either temporarily closed or worked in a reduced capacity. Education and health care dropped by 17,700 jobs (-7.6 percent) with health care and social assistance laying off 11,400. Professional and business services lost 13,900 (10.2 percent) and manufacturing reduced staffing levels by 10,600 jobs (-4.8 percent).

Following this month’s drop, the state now trails last year’s mark by 191,200 jobs (-12.1 percent). However, this annual loss should mitigate substantially as the year progresses and firms try to resume normal operations. Accommodations and food services and retail trade shed about half of all payroll employment and have the largest over-the-year deficits to make up (-56,400 and -22,500, respectively), yet these industries may also have to deal with new regulations that reduce foot traffic or attendance.

MEDIA ALERT:  Local data for April 2020 will be posted to the IWD website on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.  Statewide data for May 2020 will be released on Friday, June 19, 2020.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  April March April March April
  2020 2020 2019 2020 2019
Civilian labor force 1,711,500 1,722,000 1,727,400 -10,500 -15,900
Unemployment 175,300 56,600 47,000 118,700 128,300
Unemployment rate 10.2% 3.3% 2.7% 6.9 7.5
Employment 1,536,200 1,665,400 1,680,400 -129,200 -144,200
U.S. unemployment rate 14.7% 4.4% 3.6% 10.3 11.1
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,395,300 1,572,400 1,586,500 -177,100 -191,200
Mining 2,300 2,400 2,400 -100 -100
Construction 69,700 77,000 78,000 -7,300 -8,300
Manufacturing 212,500 223,100 226,200 -10,600 -13,700
Trade, transportation and utilities 284,700 307,400 310,600 -22,700 -25,900
Information 19,900 20,300 21,500 -400 -1,600
Financial activities 107,500 110,500 109,900 -3,000 -2,400
Professional and business services 122,400 136,300 139,600 -13,900 -17,200
Education and health services 215,900 233,600 235,300 -17,700 -19,400
Leisure and hospitality 73,700 142,200 144,100 -68,500 -70,400
Other services 49,700 58,100 57,800 -8,400 -8,100
Government 237,000 261,500 261,100 -24,500 -24,100
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  April March April March April
  2020 2020 2019 2020 2019
Initial claims 156,660 126,040 8,668 24.3% 1707.3%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 182,802 46,383 27,834 294.1% 556.8%
     Weeks paid 655,332 122,636 78,767 434.4% 732.0%
     Amount paid $214,036,593 $49,038,061 $31,196,451 336.5% 586.1%