Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through December 2015)
Slow month, slow year for Iowa jobs
Jobless rate steady at 3.4 percent; December job growth at a trickle
Iowa JobWatch — January 2016

Issued Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2-page PDF

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Jan. 26, 2016) — Slow job growth in December made up for a downward revision from November as Iowa payrolls and the 3.4 percent unemployment rate both held even, capping a slow-growth 2015.

The Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Executive Director Mike Owen about new data released by Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“December brought more of the same to the Iowa job picture. The 1,100 nonfarm job gain — well off an already slow job pace for the year — made up for a 1,100-job drop in revised numbers for November. Construction jobs were a bright spot with a 2,400 increase, as they have been for the year as they were up 13 percent from the previous December. However, Iowa Workforce Development forecast in its monthly statement that the construction category may wane in 2016.

“Over the long term, the unmistakable trend is for sluggish growth that has kept Iowa from a full recovery from a recession that ended 6 1/2 years ago. From a public policy standpoint, Iowa's leaders appear to accept this result. Two common threads link state policy over that time: first, to continue to give away increasing sums in business subsidies without evidence of a positive economic return, and second, to deny low-wage workers an increase in the minimum wage, which holds the potential of spurring economic activity and greater job growth.”

Job Growth Perspective
Iowa has created only 109,100 jobs through 59 of the 60 months set by Governor Branstad in his goal to reach a 200,000 increase. Over that time, Iowa would have needed to add about 3,300 jobs a month, but instead has averaged less than 1,900.

Key Numbers
• Nonfarm jobs rose in December by 1,100 to 1,584,700 from an downwardly revised 1,583,600 in November. Nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) were 25,600 ahead of where they stood in December 2014.
• The unemployment rate remained at 3.4 percent, down from 4.3 percent a year earlier.
• The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 2,600 to 1,708,700, but was 6,900 behind December 2014.
• Six of the 11 major job sectors posted gains in December — with construction adding 2,400, "other" services adding 1,400 and education and health services adding 1,100 net new jobs.
• Trade, transportation and utilities dropped by 2,500 jobs; government jobs fell by 1,100. All other changes were by less than 1,000.

Key Trends
• Over the last two years, Iowa has gained nonfarm or payroll jobs in all but five months.
• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 2,100 jobs from December 2014 to December 2015.
• Over the year, the strongest percentage gains were in construction, up 12.9 percent (10,000 jobs), and in “other” services, 7.6 percent (4,500 jobs). Financial activities, and education and health services also showed over-the-year increases at 3 percent or above.
• Four job categories were down from a year earlier: manufacturing (1,700), information (700), government (1,400) and mining (100).