Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through October 2019)
Iowa JobWatch: Jobs steady in October
Zero-growth October after six gains; monthly average gain only 300 in 2019

Iowa JobWatch — October 2019

Issued Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Nov. 21, 2019) — Iowa payroll jobs held steady in October while the unemployment rate ticked up to 2.6 percent with more people entering the labor force.

The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project released this statement from executive director Mike Owen.

“The slight increase in a low unemployment rate is not nearly as telling about the Iowa job climate as the reconfirmation of the state's terribly sluggish job trends. October effectively rearranged deck chairs on a ship that is going nowhere fast, with no change in five major job sectors and declines (four) and increases (two) offering no more than a 500-job change, and no change overall.

“The job numbers for September had been revised slightly upward, so what appeared to be a decline a month ago is now seen as a positive month. Still, the overall trend is for less than a 700-job average monthly increase over the last year — not nearly enough to push the economy forward.”

nonfarm jobs by month
Job Deficit chart Oct2019
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
Nonfarm jobs held at 1,596,100 for the second straight month following a 900-job upward revision for September.
Iowa's unemployment rate rose to 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent, up slightly from 2.4 percent a year earlier.
There were 10,000 more Iowans in the labor force in October than in September, with 9,100 more finding employment and 900 more unemployed.
Two of the 11 major job categories showed gains in October, and four showed declines. No change was greater than 500 jobs.
Five categories showed no change during the month.

Key Trends
Through the first 10 months of 2019, nonfarm job growth is averaging 300 per month; through the 12 months since October  2018, nonfarm job growth is averaging 600.
Iowa's preliminary numbers for October were the first since March to not show some overall net gain in jobs.
Over the year, manufacturing and government jobs lead gains at 2,800, followed by construction at 1,600 and the "other" services category at 1,500. Four categories have shown small declines, the largest 1,500 in information jobs.

Job Growth Perspective
Iowa remains well off the pace of job growth needed for full recovery from the last recession, which ended in June 2009. Analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows Iowa needed a net increase of 111,600 jobs since December 2007, the start of that recession, to keep up with the population growth of 7.3 percent since that time. Jobs have grown only by 70,800, leaving a job deficit of 40,800.