Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.4 Percent for Third Month

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: January 18, 2019
Contact: Communications Bureau
Telephone: 515-499-6820

Status of the Iowa Workforce 

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Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.4 Percent for Third Month

Iowa's unemployment rate remains at 2.4 percent for December 2018.Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.4 percent in December. The state’s jobless rate was 2.9 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent in December.

“In 2018, four out of every five jobs created in Iowa were in the construction and manufacturing sectors,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Because more Iowans are employed in manufacturing than in any other industry and construction is a leading economic indicator of  growth across industries - this month’s jobs report indicates we are moving in the right direction - our manufacturing core is getting stronger and our businesses are focused on development. The challenge we face is ensuring Iowans have the skills our employers need to power their potential. The time is now to invest in Future Ready Iowa, a powerful tool to grow family incomes, meet employer needs and strengthen communities.”

The number of unemployed Iowans remained at 40,600 in December. The current estimate is 8,700 lower than the year ago level of 49,300. 

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,651,300 in December. This figure was 2,300 higher than November and 25,700 higher than one year ago. 

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

 The lowest number of unemployment insurance benefit recipients since 1988In December, Iowa’s establishments continued to expand payrolls leading to an increase of 3,900 jobs. Following a revision upward in November, jobs have now been added in three consecutive months for the state. Most segments of Iowa’s economy showed promise to end the year, although construction did contract following a later-than-usual building season. In total, goods producing sectors (generally construction and manufacturing) have fueled most of the state’s growth in 2018 and have been responsible for four out of five jobs added during the calendar year. Government advanced by 1,100 jobs since last year and was up 600 jobs compared to November.

The education and health services super sector added the most jobs since November (+1,500) and was fueled by expansion in the health care and social assistance sector. This gain follows two months of little movement in the combined super sector. Leisure and hospitality also grew in December with 1,300 jobs added. This month’s gain was partially fueled by hiring in accommodations and food services which had previously shed jobs in every month since June. Manufacturing continues to beat expectations and again hired more workers in December (+1,200). Both durable and nondurable goods factories had a prosperous year in 2018 and bolstered staffing levels to accommodate increased demand for goods. Alternatively, all was not positive in December, as construction continued to pare off the remainder of the seasonal employees. This loss of 1,900 jobs this month was not unexpected as this sector added jobs in every month from February through October. The only other notable loss this month was from the retail sector (-200) which extended its streak of four consecutive months of declines.

The Manufacturing sector was the state #1 job creator in 2018.In total, 15,500 jobs have been added over the past twelve months. In that time, manufacturing maintained its status as the number one creator of jobs throughout 2018, ending the year at 7,600 jobs higher than last December. Both durable and nondurable goods shops have added staff over that span. Construction industries have also fared well annually (+5,100) despite a sizable decline this month. The only notable loss over the past twelve months is a drop in accommodations and food services (-4,500).

MEDIA ALERT:  Click here to access an audio cut of comments about Iowa's labor market situation. Local data for December will be posted to the IWD website on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Statewide and local data for January 2019 will be released on Monday, March 11, 2019.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  December November December November December
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Civilian labor force 1,691,900 1,689,700 1,674,900 2,200 17,000
Unemployment 40,600 40,600 49,300 0 -8,700
Unemployment rate 2.4% 2.4% 2.9% 0.0 -0.5
Employment 1,651,300 1,649,000 1,625,600 2,300 25,700
U.S. unemployment rate 3.9% 3.7% 4.1% 0.2 -0.2
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,598,100 1,594,200 1,582,600 3,900 15,500
Mining 2,500 2,400 2,400 100 100
Construction 78,600 80,500 73,500 -1,900 5,100
Manufacturing 230,600 229,400 223,000 1,200 7,600
Trade, transportation and utilities 315,700 315,500 315,500 200 200
Information 21,400 21,300 22,000 100 -600
Financial activities 111,800 111,900 111,300 -100 500
Professional and business services 143,000 142,700 140,700 300 2,300
Education and health services 234,200 232,700 232,200 1,500 2,000
Leisure and hospitality 143,500 142,200 146,400 1,300 -2,900
Other services 56,500 55,900 56,400 600 100
Government 260,300 259,700 259,200 600 1,100
 (above data subject to revision)          
Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  December November December November December
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Initial claims 22,799 16,746 26,587 36.1% -14.2%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 26,605 16,466 27,146 61.6% -2.0%
     Weeks paid 82,560 49,692 83,932 66.1% -1.6%
     Amount paid $31,987,365 $18,626,684 $31,996,661 71.7% 0.0%