Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.4 in March

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: April 19, 2019
Contact: Communications Bureau
Telephone: 515-281-9646

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Status of the Iowa Workforce

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.4 Percent in March

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

"It appears that the devastating flooding that plagued so much of the state in March has not yet impacted our unemployment rates," said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. "The next few months will be more telling as to the extent of the effect on the state’s unemployment rate. For now, our unemployment rate remains at a historically low level and the number of Iowans in the workforce continues to grow."

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 40,500 in March from 40,000 in February.  The current estimate is 5,000 lower than the year ago level of 45,500.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,665,600 in March. This figure was 5,400 higher than February and 28,000 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa establishments took another step back in March (-2,700) following a decline in February. Businesses have been slow to hire thus far this year, with the last monthly job increase occurring in December. This month’s loss pulls total nonfarm employment down to 1,584,600 jobs. Heavy flooding plagued many of the rural parts of the western border during middle and late parts of the month; however, establishments haven’t reflected much loss so far in the estimates. This could be attributed to several factors, such as workers continuing to get paid for things like clean up during the flooding, the timing of the flood and it missing the reference point, and the fact that it was generally within rural areas which may not have been represented in sample. April may be a better indicator of how much impact the flood had on employment.

Trade, transportation, and utilities combined for 1,800 jobs lost in March. Transportation and warehousing was particularly weak (-1,100). This marks the second consecutive loss for this sector. Manufacturing also pared jobs twice in the last two months, shedding 1,000 jobs mainly within durable goods factories. Construction got off to a slow start in March (-800) and has generally trended down over the past several months. On the other hand, there were some bright spots within total nonfarm employment. Health care and social assistance added 1,100 jobs after showing little growth over the past several months. Leisure and hospitality advanced in March (+1,000) following a sharp decline in February.

Given the recent sluggishness within establishments, total nonfarm is now up just 3,900 jobs versus one year ago. Manufacturing continues to fuel much of the annual gain by a wide margin (+7,200). Leisure and hospitality and professional and business services tie for a distant second (+1,200). Conversely, the trade, transportation, and utilities super sector continues to lead all losses with 2,100 jobs pared. Construction is also down following recent sluggishness (-1,700). Exactly five private super sectors are now down annually versus five that are up from one year ago.

MEDIA ALERT:  Local data for March will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.  Statewide data for April 2019 will be released on Friday, May 17, 2019. 

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  March February March February March
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Civilian labor force 1,706,100 1,700,200 1,683,000 5,900 23,100
Unemployment 40,500 40,000 45,500 500 -5,000
Unemployment rate 2.4% 2.4% 2.7% 0.0 -0.3
Employment 1,665,600 1,660,200 1,637,600 5,400 28,000
U.S. unemployment rate 3.8% 3.8% 4.0% 0.0 -0.2
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,584,600 1,587,300 1,580,700 -2,700 3,900
Mining 2,500 2,600 2,600 -100 -100
Construction 75,500 76,300 77,200 -800 -1,700
Manufacturing 227,500 228,500 220,300 -1,000 7,200
Trade, transportation and utilities 310,300 312,100 312,400 -1,800 -2,100
Information 21,500 21,400 22,200 100 -700
Financial activities 109,000 109,300 108,700 -300 300
Professional and business services 141,900 142,000 140,700 -100 1,200
Education and health services 235,600 234,500 235,000 1,100 600
Leisure and hospitality 144,900 143,900 143,700 1,000 1,200
Other services 57,000 57,400 57,500 -400 -500
Government 258,900 259,300 260,400 -400 -1,500
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  March February March February March
  2019 2019 2018 2019 2018
Initial claims 9,685 9,665 9,153 0.2% 5.8%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 35,571 38,000 34,536 -6.4% 3.0%
     Weeks paid 117,730 129,440 112,805 -9.0% 4.4%
     Amount paid $47,763,210 $52,403,981 $44,483,558 -8.9% 7.4%