Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through February 2011)
Iowa JobWatch: Strong Jobs Start to 2012 in Iowa
Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.3 Percent in February

Issued Friday, March 30, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa (March 30, 2012) — The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project released this statement from Executive Director David Osterberg regarding the latest Iowa jobs numbers, reported today by Iowa Workforce Development:

“We are off to a strong start in Iowa jobs in 2012, putting us on a pace well ahead of the last two slow-growth years in the wake of the last recession. Payroll jobs in February were up 8,700 jobs in one month, and 17,200 over the year-ago level. That is the largest one-month gain in seven months and the second-largest in over a decade.

“While it is important to remind ourselves that these are one-month numbers and are preliminary, these are encouraging signs. If we were to keep up something close to the pace of the first two months of 2012, by fall we would erase the gap in jobs lost from the May 2008 peak of about 1.53 million. We are still about 35,000 jobs behind that number.

“Unlike in January, which saw an increase of nearly 12,000 manufacturing jobs, that sector was relatively stable in February. Manufacturing jobs tend to pay better than most and are more likely to offer health benefits. The biggest gains came in service industries — education and health services, and leisure and hospitality — but construction also posted a nice gain and that can spell good things for other sectors.

“As we noted last month, when the economy is picking up we need to watch the quality of jobs that we are gaining back. And one nagging drag on jobs overall is the gap in public-sector employment — still down 3,600 from a year ago. The jobs help the economy overall.”

nonfarm jobs average 1991-2011
Source: Iowa Workforce Development, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Key Numbers
— Nonfarm jobs were up in February by 8,700, to 1,493,500, from an upwardly revised January estimate.
— Nonfarm jobs are 34,700 behind the May 2008 peak of 1,528,200, and 31,700 behind the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
— The unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in February, down from 5.4 percent in January and down from 6.0 percent a year earlier.
— The labor force, those working or looking for work, was down 2,100 for the month and 3,700 over the year, as 1,600 either found work or left the labor force in February, with 400 fewer reporting they held jobs. — Initial unemployment claims were down — by 32 percent, to 13,461 — for the month, and down 7.9 percent over the year.

Key Trends
— Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 1,400 jobs in the last 12 months.
— Manufacturing is the top-gaining job sector over the past 12 months, up 11,000, followed by construction at 4,300, education and health services at 3,100, and trade, transportation and utilities at 2,800. Education and health services led gains for the month at 3,600, with leisure and hospitality up 2,100 and construction up 1,300.
— On the downside, government jobs were relatively stable in February with a gain of 100, but have declined by 3,600 over the year. Professional and business services fell by 1,800 over the year despite a gain of 700 in February.