Iowa's Unemployment Rate Remains at 4.2 Percent in September

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: October 21, 2016
Contact: Courtney Maxwell Greene
Telephone: 515-281-9646

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 4.2 Percent in September

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 4.2 percent in September. The state’s jobless rate was 3.6 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.0 percent in September.

"Due to an increase in the number of Iowans participating in the workforce, Iowa's unemployment rate held steady at 4.2% in September,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development.  “The fact that the additional workers could find jobs is a good sign regarding the state of Iowa's economy despite the recent uptick in the unemployment rate in the past few months."

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 72,500 in September from 72,800 in August. The current estimate is 11,800 higher than the year ago level of 60,700.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,650,200 in September. This figure was 8,200 higher than August and 9,600 higher than one year ago.   

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

For just the third time this year Iowa establishments pared jobs (-900). Although this month’s decline was small, it does halt three consecutive months of growth. Much of the loss was due to reductions in the government sector, particularly local government education. Even with this month’s paring, government remains up 4,000 jobs compared to last year, whereas the state is up 29,600 jobs versus one year ago.

Education and health care advanced the most this month (+1,700) with many jobs being added in social assistance and day care. These gains more than offset a moderate decline in private education services. Strengthened by unexpected gains in wholesale, the trade, transportation, and warehousing sector added 1,100 jobs. This sector is now up 3,000 jobs compared to last September. Manufacturing experienced a small increase this month (+500) and has added 2,300 jobs since June. Gains have been fueled by hiring in the durable goods sectors and provide evidence that durable goods factories are willing to boost staffing levels. Alternatively, losses this month were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (-1,700) with the drop partially explained by seasonal parings in accommodations and food services and recreational industries. The financial activities sector lost 800 jobs in September following an unusually large increase last month. While a majority of sectors posted losses this month, these losses were generally small in nature and included professional and business services, information, and construction.

Annually, nonfarm employment has generally trended upward from last year’s level. Construction had a minor drop this month, yet remains 13,700 jobs higher than last September. This annual gain may start to lessen as infrastructure and institutional building construction wraps up in the fall. Education and health care is second in terms of annual job growth (+6,500) with much of the increase stemming from hiring in health care and social assistance. Smaller annual gains include leisure and hospitality and other services. Losses continue to be dominated by manufacturing (-3,400), although there has been some recent evidence that these losses are starting to subside as the annual gap starts to narrow. The only other sectors trailing last year’s level were professional and business services (-2,600), information (-1,200), and mining (-100).

MEDIA ALERT:  An audio cut of comments about Iowa’s labor market situation is available by calling (515) 281-6057. Statewide data for October will be released on Friday, November 18, 2016. Local data for October will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  September August September August September
  2016 2016 2015 2016 2015
Civilian labor force 1,722,700 1,714,800 1,701,300 7,900 21,400
Unemployment 72,500 72,800 60,700 -300 11,800
Unemployment rate 4.2% 4.2% 3.6% 0.0 0.6
Employment 1,650,200 1,642,000 1,640,600 8,200 9,600
U.S. unemployment rate 5.0% 4.9% 5.1% 0.1 -0.1
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,587,800 1,588,700 1,558,200 -900 29,600
Mining 2,100 2,200 2,200 -100 -100
Construction 91,300 91,500 77,600 -200 13,700
Manufacturing 211,500 211,000 214,900 500 -3,400
Trade, transportation and utilities 318,700 317,600 315,700 1,100 3,000
Information 23,300 23,500 24,500 -200 -1,200
Financial activities 109,300 110,100 106,200 -800 3,100
Professional and business           
    services 136,000 136,300 138,600 -300 -2,600
Education and health services 231,800 230,100 225,300 1,700 6,500
Leisure and hospitality 142,700 144,400 139,200 -1,700 3,500
Other services 63,100 63,200 60,000 -100 3,100
Government 258,000 258,800 254,000 -800 4,000
(above data subject to revision)          


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  September August September August September
  2016 2016 2015 2016 2015
Initial claims 8,875 8,466 10,464 4.8% -15.2%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 20,000 24,920 22,722 -19.7% -12.0%
     Weeks paid 63,766 88,355 95,086 -27.8% -32.9%
     Amount paid $23,256,966 $31,565,846 $33,687,013 -26.3% -31.0%