Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.4 Percent

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: December 21, 2018
Contact: Cory Kelly
Telephone: 515-330-5646

Status of the Iowa Workforce 

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Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.4 Percent

Manufacturing is Iowa's top hiring sector in November 2018 with an increase in 1,100 jobs since October and 8,600 jobs since last November.Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.4 percent in November. The state’s jobless rate was 2.9 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in November.

“Iowa’s November jobs report continues to reflect the powerful opportunities that exist in our state,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “More Iowans are working today than at any other time in history and that presents both opportunities and challenges for our citizens. The opportunity for meaningful employment exists now more than ever for all Iowans. The challenge is building our skilled workforce at a rate that matches our growth. IowaWORKS Centers around the state can help meet both, and we do so every day. Whether you are a job seeker looking for a new career or upskilling opportunity or you are an employer needing workforce solutions, we can help.  The IowaWORKS team is dedicated to helping power all possibilities.”

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 40,600 in November from 41,200 in October. The current estimate is 8,600 lower than the year ago level of 49,200. 

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,648,900 in November. This figure was 1,900 higher than October and 23,300 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

The number of working Iowans has reached an all time high of 1,648,900 in November 2018.Iowa establishments reduced payrolls slightly (-800) in November, leaving total nonfarm employment essentially unchanged versus October. Since June, Iowa establishments have alternated between gains and losses with service sectors generally trending down over the past several months. Alternatively, goods-producing sectors (manufacturing, construction, and natural resources and mining) have added jobs in every month since January. Government has been essentially unchanged compared to October and versus November of last year.

Leisure and hospitality pared the most jobs this month (-1,400) with losses being heaviest in food services and drinking places. Recently, this sector has shown signs of reduced demand for services. Accommodations and food services shed jobs in six of the last seven months in Iowa. All other sector losses were small in nature and included construction, which lost jobs for the first time since January (-600). Also declining this month were education and health care (-600) and information services (-500). Alternatively, no sector added more jobs this month than manufacturing (+1,100). Gains were strongest in durable goods factories, specifically agriculture, construction, and mining machinery manufacturing shops. Through 2018, manufacturing has overwhelmingly trended up; losses occurred in only two months of the year and accounted for just 200 jobs lost. Despite continued weakness in retail, trade, transportation, and utilities gained 500 jobs in November. The advancement was mostly due to stronger than expected hiring in transportation industries. Smaller gains this month included professional and business services (+300) and financial activities (+200).

Annually, total nonfarm remains 15,900 jobs beyond last November’s mark. At this point, most all of the annual increase stems from goods-producing sectors. Manufacturing is now 8,600 jobs higher than last November. Construction remains up 6,000 jobs. The professional and business services sector has added 2,100 jobs to lead all service sectors. Annual losses are heaviest in leisure and hospitality (-2,700) following this month’s large drop in accommodations and food services.

MEDIA ALERT: Click here to access an audio cut of comments about Iowa's labor market situation. Local data for November will be posted to the IWD website on Thursday, December 27, 2018. Statewide data for December 2018 will be released on Friday, January 18, 2019.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  November October November October November
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Civilian labor force 1,689,500 1,688,200 1,674,800 1,300 14,700
Unemployment 40,600 41,200 49,200 -600 -8,600
Unemployment rate 2.4% 2.4% 2.9% 0.0 -0.5
Employment 1,648,900 1,647,000 1,625,600 1,900 23,300
U.S. unemployment rate 3.7% 3.7% 4.1% 0.0 -0.4
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,593,000 1,593,800 1,577,100 -800 15,900
Mining 2,400 2,500 2,400 -100 0
Construction 80,800 81,400 74,800 -600 6,000
Manufacturing 229,000 227,900 220,400 1,100 8,600
Trade, transportation and utilities 314,300 313,800 313,800 500 500
Information 21,300 21,800 21,900 -500 -600
Financial activities 112,000 111,800 110,100 200 1,900
Professional and business services 142,700 142,400 140,600 300 2,100
Education and health services 232,500 233,100 231,300 -600 1,200
Leisure and hospitality 142,200 143,600 144,900 -1,400 -2,700
Other services 55,900 55,900 57,300 0 -1,400
Government 259,900 259,600 259,600 300 300
 (above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  November October November October November
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Initial claims 16,746 9,475 14,395 76.7% 16.3%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 16,466 15,735 19,625 4.6% -16.1%
     Weeks paid 49,692 53,152 66,245 -6.5% -25.0%
     Amount paid $18,626,684 $20,100,113 $24,462,032 -7.3% -23.9%