Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through November 2018)
Iowa JobWatch: Third job drop in five months
Jobless rate stays at historical low of 2.4 percent

Iowa JobWatch — November 2018

Issued Friday, December 21, 2018

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Dec. 21, 2018) — Iowa payroll jobs dipped in November, the third decline in five months of a bumpy 2018, though the unemployment rate held at 2.4 percent.

The Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Executive Director Mike Owen about the latest seasonally adjusted jobs data from Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Once again we're seeing why focusing too heavily on one month's job performance doesn't tell you a lot. For one thing, the monthly revisions to the previous month's job announcement can be large. The October numbers were previously estimated to be 1,500 higher than it now appears, and the November numbers are even lower than that.

“We have lost jobs in three of the last five months and are batting just over .500 through the first 11 months of 2018, with six months of gains and five declines. This is part of a long-term trend in which Iowa has not seen job growth that is either sustained or strong. While some are celebrating the low unemployment rate, there is not a lot to celebrate in the underlying job numbers.”

nonfarm jobs by month
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

Key Numbers
• Iowa nonfarm jobs fell by 800 jobs to 1,593,000 in November, 15,900 ahead of November 2017.
• Iowa's unemployment rate remained at its 18-year low of 2.4 percent, compared with 2.9 percent a year earlier.
• Five of 11 major job categories showed gains in November — led by 1,100 in manufacturing — but five showed declines and one (other services) showed no change.
• The largest decline was in leisure and hospitality (1,400), followed by construction (600) and education and health services (600).

Key Trends
• Over the year, manufacturing leads gains at 8,600, followed by construction at 6,000. Seven categories showed 12-month gains.
• Three categories declined over the previous 12 months — leisure and hospitality (2,700), "other" services (1,400); and information (600).

Job Growth Perspective
• Iowa jobs still have not recovered from the Great Recession when accounting for population growth. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa would have had to gain 106,100 net nonfarm jobs to keep up with 7.0 percent population growth since the December 2007 start of the last recession, but has gained back 67,800. This leaves a jobs deficit of 38,300.