Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 3.1 Percent

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: May 19, 2017
Contact: Cory Kelly
Telephone: 515-330-5646

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 3.1 Percent

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 3.1 percent in April. The state’s jobless rate was 3.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent in April.

“The Iowa economy provided little clue in terms of long-term trend in April, with slight change in most economic measures,” said Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development Director. “There was another small decrease in total nonfarm employment for the state, a possible sign that businesses are a little more apprehensive about hiring to begin the summer season compared to previous years. This was particularly true in construction which is down slightly compared to last year’s record highs.”

The number of unemployed Iowans remained at 52,100 in April. The current estimate is 11,900 lower than the year ago level of 64,000. 

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,640,000 in April. This figure was 200 lower than March and 3,300 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Following a hiring surge to begin the year, total nonfarm employment has been sluggish over the past two months, shedding 1,400 jobs since February, and now rests at 1,579,700 jobs in April. While job growth was particularly anemic in goods-producing sectors, half of all private sectors shed jobs this month. Among public entities, government shed jobs for the fourth consecutive month and pared 500 jobs in April. Government trails last year’s mark by 1,300 jobs due primarily to reductions at the local level.

Construction was down 1,500 jobs in April to lead all sectors. This sector continues to trail last year’s historic highs slightly, but may exceed those marks as the summer projects hit their peak. Manufacturing also lost jobs this month (-700) stemming from reductions in durable goods factories which have now decreased in three of the last four months. Smaller drops this month included other services (-500), information (-300), and trade and transportation (-300). Alternatively, job gains this month were largest in education and health care (+1,800) and were fueled by larger than expected hiring in health services and social assistance. Financial activities expanded again this month and added 800 jobs. This month’s increase marks the eighth-consecutive gain dating back to August 2016. Smaller gains in April included professional and business services (+400) and leisure and hospitality (+300).

Annually, Iowa has added 8,000 jobs over the past twelve months. Health care industries have boosted the education and health services super sector to a gain of 5,300 jobs. Professional and business services remains up 3,900 jobs due primarily to hiring in professional, scientific, and technical services. The financial activities sector has steadily trended up over the past several months and is now up 3,500 jobs annually. On the other hand, annual losses are now evident in four private super sectors in Iowa and continue to be led by manufacturing (-4,100). Durable goods factories continue to struggle with weak demand and retooling factories are down markedly versus one year ago (-3,700). Information continues to adjust to the changing economy and trails last year’s level by 1,500 jobs. Construction is also down annually (-1,300), although this loss is compared to historic highs reached last year and this sector may be recovering from a weak start to the summer building surge.

MEDIA ALERT:  An audio cut of comments about Iowa’s labor market situation is available by calling (515) 281-6057. Statewide data for May 2017 will be released on Friday, June 16, 2017. Local data for May will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  April March April March April
  2017 2017 2016 2017 2016
Civilian labor force 1,692,100 1,692,200 1,700,700 -100 -8,600
Unemployment 52,100 52,100 64,000 0 -11,900
Unemployment rate 3.1% 3.1% 3.8% 0.0 -0.7
Employment 1,640,000 1,640,200 1,636,700 -200 3,300
U.S. unemployment rate 4.4% 4.5% 5.0% -0.1 -0.6
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,579,700 1,580,200 1,571,700 -500 8,000
Mining 2,500 2,500 2,200 0 300
Construction 79,800 81,300 81,100 -1,500 -1,300
Manufacturing 210,400 211,100 214,500 -700 -4,100
Trade, transportation and utilities 318,200 318,500 315,900 -300 2,300
Information 21,100 21,400 22,600 -300 -1,500
Financial activities 111,500 110,700 108,000 800 3,500
Professional and business services 142,900 142,500 139,000 400 3,900
Education and health services 233,900 232,100 228,600 1,800 5,300
Leisure and hospitality 142,800 142,500 143,300 300 -500
Other services 60,300 60,800 58,900 -500 1,400
Government 256,300 256,800 257,600 -500 -1,300
(above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  April March April March April
  2017 2017 2016 2017 2016
Initial claims 8,646 9,883 10,082 -12.5% -14.2%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 29,471 39,494 29,149 -25.4% 1.1%
     Weeks paid 85,247 149,680 85,625 -43.0% -0.4%
     Amount paid $32,361,531 $57,444,559 $30,832,382 -43.7% 5.0%