Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through April 2014)
Boost in April Jobs — Can Iowa Sustain It?
Iowa JobWatch — May 2014

Issued Friday, May 16, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (May 16, 2014) — Iowa nonfarm jobs rose to a record high in April as the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent. Heather Gibney

The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project, which tracks job numbers, released this statement from Executive Director Mike Owen:

“April was a good month for the Iowa economy. That has to be good news for young people graduating from Iowa’s colleges and universities this month.

“We always think it’s most important to look at the long-term trends rather than one-month changes, which have been inconsistent since December — rising one month, falling the next like a see-saw. Notably, the preliminary number for April is a record, but is only 200 above where jobs stood in December.

“We also need to recognize that we are still well off the pace of what is needed to keep up with growth in the population since the recession. So, yes, a 5,600 increase in one month is great — the kind of pace we'd like to see sustained — but let’s wait and see before getting too excited about it.”

Job Growth Perspective
One way to look at job counts is to consider what the state needs to keep up with growth in the population. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the new nonfarm jobs number for April is a net gain of 19,500 from the start of the recession, but with 4.6 percent population growth the state would need to gain 70,400 to keep up. That is a jobs deficit of 50,900.

Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Iowa's economy has produced 68,200 net new jobs through the first 39 months of his term. To meet the Governor’s goal, Iowa would need to add 6,300 new jobs per month over the next 21 months, compared to a pace below 1,800 through the first 39 months.

Jobs Deficit graph
Graph reflects Economic Policy Institute analysis

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs increased by 5,600 in April to a record 1,544,400 from an upward adjusted 1,538,800 in March. Nonfarm jobs are also 24,000 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
• The preliminary numbers put Iowa nonfarm jobs 200 ahead of the previous high in December 2013, and well ahead of the previous peak of 1,528,000 in May 2008. Jobs also are 19,500 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
The unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in April, down from 4.5 percent in March and 4.7 percent a year earlier.
The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 3,900 from March and was up 27,700 over 12 months.
Initial unemployment claims were 10,769 in April, down 9.8 percent since March and 7.8 percent from April 2012. The number of continuing claims — 36,155 — was down 12.3 percent for the month and 8.3 percent for the year.

Key Trends
Despite the large one-month increase — matched only twice in the last year — only four of the major job sectors posted gains in April. Construction at 3,100 and trade and transportation at 2,500 led the way, with professional and businesses services up 900 and other services up 400.
• These increases were offset by moderate losses in four sectors: leisure and hospitality (600), information (500), financial activities (100), and education and health services (100).
• Government, manufacturing and mining saw no change.
Over the year, all sectors have increased except information (down 1,200) and financial activities (no change). Trade and transportation, the largest industry sector, was up 5,600 to lead over-the-year results, with construction up 4,800 and leisure and hospitality up 4,000.
Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 2,000 jobs over the last 12 months.