Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through April 2019)
Iowa JobWatch: April puts brakes on job slide
Jobless rate stays low at 2.4 percent, jobs rise in April after two-month drop

Iowa JobWatch — May 2019

Issued Friday, May 17, 2019

Jobless rate stays at historically low 2.4 percent
April jobs boost stems early 2019 downturn

IOWA CITY, Iowa (May 17, 2019) — Construction jobs led an April boost in Iowa payroll jobs after a sluggish start to 2019, keeping the state's unemployment rate at a historically low 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.

"Some better news for Iowa's economy came in the April job numbers, but the increase is heavily focused in one category: construction. A 2,600 boost in construction jobs was a big share of the 4,700-job increase for April.

“The increase reclaimed just over half of the overall Iowa jobs lost in the previous two months, leaving Iowa about 11,000 ahead of where jobs stood a year ago. Job growth is averaging a very sluggish 900 jobs per month over the last 12 months.”

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 rose by 4,700 jobs to a total of 1,589,200 in April, 10,900 ahead of April 2018.
• Iowa's unemployment rate remained at its 18-year low of 2.4 percent, compared with 2.6 percent a year earlier.
• Six of the 11 major job categories showed increases in April, led by 2,600 in construction and 1,200 in trade, transportation and utilities. All other increases were below 1,000: manufacturing (900), professional and business services (900), other services (500), education and health services (400. Mining was unchanged.
• The largest decrease was 900 in leisure & hospitality, with smaller drops in financial activities (500), information (200) and government (200).

Key Trends
• Over the year, manufacturing leads gains at 7,700, followed by professional and business services at 2,100, construction at 2,000, and education and health services at 1,000.
• Government jobs, down 1,000, led declines for the year, followed by information (800), trade, transportation and utilities (500), and financial activities (100).

Job Growth Perspective
Iowa jobs are far short of what is needed for a recovery from the Great Recession when accounting for population growth. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa would have had to gain 106,500 net nonfarm jobs to keep up with 7 percent population growth since the December 2007 start of the last recession, but has gained back 63,900. This leaves a jobs deficit of 42,600.