Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through November 2015)
Strong month for Iowa jobs
Jobless Rate Dips Again — 3.4 Percent in November
Iowa JobWatch — December 2015

Issued Friday, December 18, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa — November produced strong job gains in Iowa as payrolls grew by 8,400 jobs and the unemployment rate dipped again, to 3.4 percent, according to new data released today by Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Executive Director Mike Owen:

“November was a very strong month, particularly with big gains in construction. The 8,400-job gain is the largest one-month gain in over five years — and also is over four times the pace of monthly job growth over that span. So it’s also important to look at more than a one-month performance.

“Long-term signals are mixed. On the one hand, the gap is narrowing between jobs we have and what we need to keep up with population since the recession years. On the other hand, that gap remains at about 28,000 jobs and the long-term pace remains slow — and the current 12-month pace of 2,300 new jobs each month won't close that jobs deficit anytime soon.”

Job Growth Perspective
Iowa has shown job growth for many years in recovery from the Great Recession, but the growth has come at a fairly consistent — and consistently slow — monthly pace of under 2,000 in those years.

One goal for job growth that has received attention is Governor Branstad’s goal 200,000 new jobs in five years. Iowa has been well off the pace for that goal to be reached — and is a little over halfway there (109,100) with only two months to go in the 60-month time frame set by the Governor.

We have suggested that a better way to look at jobs is that of the Economic Policy Institute, which sets state job performance in the context of the economic cycle and recovery, and considers growth in the population as part of the equation. By that measure, Iowa is 59,800 jobs ahead of where it stood at the start of the last recession, in December 2007 — but remains 28,300 behind the level necessary to keep up with population growth.

The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research and analysis organization in Iowa City. IPP has issued monthly job reports since 2003. IPP analysis is available at

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs rose in November by 8,400 to 1,584,700 from an downwardly revised 1,576,300 in October. Nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) were 27,300 ahead of where they stood in November 2014.
The unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent, compared with 4.3 percent a year earlier.
The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 1,400 to 1,706,200, but was 8,500 behind November 2014.
All but three of the 11 major job sectors posted gains in November — the leaders being construction with 3,700 and leisure and hospitality with 3,300 net new jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities rose by 2,300.
Professional and business services showed a 2,100-job decline, along with a loss of 600 government jobs. Mining was unchanged.

Key Trends
Over the last 24 months, Iowa has gained nonfarm or payroll jobs in all but five.
Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 2,300 jobs from November 2014 to November 2015.
Over the year, the strongest percentage gains are in construction, 9.3 percent (7,200 jobs), and in “other” services, 5.4 percent (3,200 jobs). Leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services also showed over-the-year increases at 3 percent or above.
Four job categories were down from a year earlier: manufacturing (500), information (600), government (900) and mining (200).