Iowa's Unemployment Rate Increases to 2.6 Percent, Participation Rate Rises

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: November 19, 2019
Contact: Molly Elder
Telephone: 515-725-4116

Printer Friendly Version

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Increases to 2.6 Percent, Participation Rate Rises

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 2.6 percent in October driven by an increase in the state’s labor force. The state’s jobless rate was 2.4 percent one year ago. The labor force participation rate rose to 70.4 percent in October from 70.1 percent in September. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 3.6 percent in October.

“While Iowa saw a small increase in the number of unemployed in October, we also saw an increase of 9,100 more Iowans in the workforce than we saw in September,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. "Over the past 12 months we have seen more than 52,000 Iowans join the workforce. Employers continue to face a shortage of skilled workers and there are currently over 60,000 job postings on Future Ready Iowa and our partners, the community colleges, are well positioned to help address this shortage through their effort to award thousands of Last-Dollar scholarships in high-demand occupations."

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 45,100 in October from 44,200 in September. The current estimate is 5,100 higher than the year ago level of 40,000.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,703,400 in October. This figure was 9,100 higher than September and 52,600 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Hiring in Iowa slowed in October with payrolls remaining virtually unchanged versus September. A slight loss within private establishments (-400) was exactly offset by small gains in local and state government. Overall, half of all private super sectors posted the same job level in October that they had in September. The lack of movement this month halts six consecutive months of job gains for the state stretching back to April and leaves total nonfarm employment in Iowa up 7,800 jobs over-the-year (+0.5 percent).

Within private services, job growth this month was centered around professional and business services (+500), or more specifically, the professional, scientific, and technical services sector. This is the second straight month this sector has advanced, adding over 900 jobs since August. Job losses this month were generally small and led by financial activities (-400). Much of this loss was within credit intermediation and related activities. Insurance carriers and related activities has fared slightly better and helped mitigate some of this decrease. All other losses were small and included construction, other services, and education and health services, all of which combined for a loss of 500 jobs.

Over the past twelve months, manufacturing continues to lead all super sectors in terms of job growth (+2,800). This is contrary to the fact that Iowa’s factories have not combined for a monthly job gain since the recent high established in June, when this sector topped at 229,900 jobs. Durable goods continue to comprise most of the gain (+2,800) with nondurable goods shops now paring jobs in each of the last four months. Construction had a small decline in October but remains up 1,600 jobs with growth being particularly strong in the Des Moines Metro area. Annual losses continue to be highest in information services (-1,500). This sector continues to structurally change away from print and wired media and become less labor intensive as new technologies advance. Leisure and hospitality now trails last year’s mark by 1,000 jobs due to accommodations and food services staff reductions over the past three months.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  October September October September October
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Civilian labor force 1,748,500 1,738,500 1,690,800 10,000 57,700
Unemployment 45,100 44,200 40,000 900 5,100
Unemployment rate 2.6% 2.5% 2.4% 0.1 0.2
Employment 1,703,400 1,694,300 1,650,800 9,100 52,600
U.S. unemployment rate 3.6% 3.5% 3.8% 0.1 -0.2
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,596,100 1,596,100 1,588,300 0 7,800
Mining 2,400 2,400 2,500 0 -100
Construction 80,600 80,700 79,000 -100 1,600
Manufacturing 228,600 228,600 225,800 0 2,800
Trade, transportation and utilities 312,400 312,400 311,900 0 500
Information 20,600 20,600 22,100 0 -1,500
Financial activities 109,100 109,500 109,400 -400 -300
Professional and business services 142,300 141,800 141,400 500 900
Education and health services 234,900 235,100 234,300 -200 600
Leisure and hospitality 143,500 143,500 144,500 0 -1,000
Other services 58,900 59,100 57,400 -200 1,500
Government 262,800 262,400 260,000 400 2,800
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  October September October September October
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Initial claims 11,805 7,611 9,475 55.1% 24.6%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 17,387 15,840 15,735 9.8% 10.5%
     Weeks paid 58,455 47,753 53,152 22.4% 10.0%
     Amount paid $23,500,010 $18,888,646 $20,100,113 24.4% 16.9%