Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through December 2016)
Slowest job pace since Great Recession
Small positive bump for December reflects long-term slow growth

Iowa JobWatch — January 2017

Issued Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Jan. 24, 2017) — A slight increase in December snapped a three-month string of payroll job losses in Iowa, leaving the state with its slowest year of job growth since the Great Recession. The unemployment rate fell from 3.8 percent to 3.6 percent to close out the year.

The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project (IPP) released this statement from Executive Director Mike Owen:

“The positive close to 2016 carries a mixed message for Iowa’s economy, as job growth came at a slower pace than in any full year since the Great Recession, based on the preliminary figures released Tuesday by Iowa Workforce Development.

“In 2016, nonfarm jobs grew on average at a pace of about 700 per month. This is less than half the pace of each of the last five years and also below 2010, the first full year after the recession.

“While the Great Recession seems long ago, an 18-month stretch ending in June of 2009, Iowa jobs have rebounded slowly, but on a relatively consistent pace. It is of concern that this pace may be slowing, when we are fully 40,000 jobs behind where we should be to keep pace with population growth in the state.” *

Job Growth Perspective*
Iowa’s population has grown by 6.4 percent since the start of the last recession in December 2007. The Economic Policy Institute has calculated that if jobs had kept up with population growth, Iowa would have a net increase of 97,400 over that period, but jobs have shown only a net gain of 57,200. That leaves the state with a job deficit of 40,200.

JobWatch graphs

Key Numbers
• Iowa nonfarm jobs rose to 1,582,100 in December, up 1,900 from November.
• Iowa's unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, down from 3.8 percent in November.
• All but three of the 11 major job categories showed gains, though only two rose by more than 1,000 in the month — professional and business services (up 1,300) and government (up 1,900).
• Leisure and hospitality (down 1,600) and trade, transportation and utilities (1,100) led declines. The only other decline was in information (300).

Key Trends
• Iowa nonfarm jobs were up 8,200 over the 12 months from December 2015 to December 2016, or an average of about 700 jobs per month — about 0.5 percent growth.
• Iowa has gained nonfarm jobs in seven of the last 12 months.
• Over the year, construction jobs have gained the most (6,900), or about 8 percent. Financial activities (4,400), and education and health services (3,900) have shown the next largest 12-month gains.
• Five categories have shown declines over the last year: manufacturing (7,000), information (1,400), professional and business services (900), trade, transportation and utilities (300) and mining (100).

The Iowa Policy Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization in Iowa City that has been tracking Iowa job issues since its founding in 2001. Find reports at