Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.5 Percent

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: October 19, 2018
Contact: Cory Kelly
Telephone: 515-330-5646

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Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.5 Percent

Iowa's unemployment rate remains at 2.5 percent in September 2018Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.5 percent in September. The state’s jobless rate was 3.0 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 3.7 percent in September.

“The number of working Iowans is increasing, the number of unemployed Iowans is decreasing, and our great state continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “To keep this momentum going, we need to focus on the future to ensure we are building a skilled workforce to meet the needs of Iowa's employers. That's why Future Ready Iowa is so critical to our state's long term success. With the thirteenth Future Ready Iowa summit taking place today in Des Moines and five more summits taking place in the weeks ahead in  Creston, Elkader, Ottumwa, Cedar Valley and Iowa City, over 2,500 community and business leaders will have come together to ignite local and regional planning efforts.”

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 41,800 in September from 42,700 in August. The current estimate is 8,200 lower than the year ago level of 50,000. 

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,644,400 in September. This figure was 1,900 higher than August and 18,200 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Continued Unemployment Claims at 18 year low in September 2018; Down 19.7 percent from AugustIn September, Iowa establishments shed 3,400 jobs. This month’s drop marks the second loss in the last three months for the state. Both goods-producing and service industries took a step back this month. Private industry showed little overall movement this month whereas government pared 3,500 jobs and is now down 1,200 jobs annually. Of the ten private sectors: four super sectors lost jobs, four were unchanged, and two added jobs in September.

Leisure and hospitality posted the largest drop in September (-1,100). This month’s loss is the second-consecutive drop for this super sector which has seen only three monthly increases in 2018. All of the loss this month was due to reductions in accommodations and food services which generally drives the monthly movements. Manufacturing posted a decrease this month (-600) following no gain in August. All other losses were small and included information services and financial activities, both of which shed jobs in August also. Alternatively, gains this month were highest in other services (+1,500). This sector has not shown any strong hiring trend this year. The only other sector to add jobs this month was professional and business services, gaining 500 jobs this month at the administrative support and waste management sector.

 Annually, total nonfarm employment remains up 17,600 jobs versus last September. Goods-producing industries continue to fuel annual growth and have contributed 14,300 jobs over the past twelve months. Durable goods factories are up 6,100 jobs despite little movement this month. Professional and business services also continues to expand and is now up 2,900 jobs since last September. Private sector losses have been limited to just three sectors: other services, leisure and hospitality, and information.


Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  September August September August September
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Civilian labor force 1,686,200 1,685,200 1,676,300 1,000 9,900
Unemployment 41,800 42,700 50,000 -900 -8,200
Unemployment rate 2.5% 2.5% 3.0% 0.0 -0.5
Employment 1,644,400 1,642,500 1,626,200 1,900 18,200
U.S. unemployment rate 3.7% 3.9% 4.2% -0.2 -0.5
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,590,100 1,593,500 1,572,500 -3,400 17,600
Mining 2,400 2,400 2,300 0 100
Construction 79,800 79,800 74,500 0 5,300
Manufacturing 225,900 226,500 217,000 -600 8,900
Trade, transportation and utilities 314,900 314,900 314,600 0 300
Information 21,700 21,800 21,900 -100 -200
Financial activities 111,500 111,600 109,300 -100 2,200
Professional and business services 142,400 141,900 139,500 500 2,900
Education and health services 233,100 233,100 231,600 0 1,500
Leisure and hospitality 141,900 143,000 143,000 -1,100 -1,100
Other services 56,400 54,900 57,500 1,500 -1,100
Government 260,100 263,600 261,300 -3,500 -1,200
(above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  September August September August September
  2018 2018 2017 2018 2017
Initial claims 7,145 8,096 7,654 -11.7% -6.7%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 15,023 18,706 17,499 -19.7% -14.1%
     Weeks paid 45,580 65,493 54,536 -30.4% -16.4%
     Amount paid $17,253,286 $23,898,854 $20,442,432 -27.8% -15.6%


Visit for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.

MEDIA ALERT:  Click here to access an audio cut of comments about Iowa's labor market situation. Local data for September will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. Statewide data for October 2018 will be released on Friday, November 16, 2018.