Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through January 2016)
Good start to 2016 in Iowa jobs
Annual revisions put Iowa jobs lower, but still growing at slow pace
Iowa JobWatch — January 2016

Issued Monday, March 14, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (March 14, 2016) — Strong overall job growth in January brightened the job picture despite data revisions that put job numbers slightly below those previously released, according to new data released today by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD).

The unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent in January, the same as an upwardly revised 3.5 percent for December, but was below the 3.8 percent level of January 2015. The latest numbers reflect annual “benchmark” revisions that are based on more complete data and improved information about seasonal changes. The seasonally adjusted revisions released today go back five years.

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

“January was a good month for Iowa jobs, with a preliminary increase estimated at 7,900 jobs. Four job sectors shared the biggest portions of that growth. That number is far above recent trends, however, as job growth over the last 12 months averaged just under 2,000.

“As a side note, it turns out the Governor was celebrating a little too early with his claim of reaching his goal of 200,000 new jobs in five years. Even if you use his counting methods — which leave out job losses — we fell below that goal (183,500). And the actual growth over five years is 105,700 jobs, according to the latest official information.

“It is most important for policy makers to focus on how to boost the numbers of jobs in sectors that tend to pay better and will sustain our economy for the long haul. Those strategies must include strong education for young people and for workers in transition to meet the economy of the future.”

Job Growth Perspective
• Iowa created 105,700 jobs through the 60 months set by Governor Branstad in his goal for 200,000 new jobs. Over that time, Iowa would have needed to add about 3,300 jobs a month, but instead averaged about 1,800.

• According to the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa still has a job deficit of 29,600 jobs from the start of the last recession over eight years ago. Considering population growth of 5.7 percent, Iowa would have needed to add a net of 86,500 jobs since December 2007, but as of January had added 56,900 — or a gap of 29,600.

Key Numbers
• Nonfarm jobs rose in January by 7,900 to 1,581,800 from a downwardly revised 1,573,900 in December. Nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) were 23,500 ahead of where they stood in January 2015.
• The unemployment rate remained at 3.5 percent, down from 3.8 percent a year earlier.
• The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 3,900 to 1,709,300, and was 7,000 ahead of January 2015.
• Eight of the 11 major job sectors posted gains in January, led by trade and transportation (2,200, mostly in retail trade), leisure and hospitality (2,100), government (1,900), and "other" services (1,200).
• Slight declines occurred in professional and business services (600) and construction (400). Mining showed no change.

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 about 2,000 jobs from January 2015 to January 2016.
• Over the last 12 months, the strongest percentage gains were in “other” services, up 7.3 percent (4,300 jobs), and construction, up 6.3 percent (4,900 jobs).
• Two job categories were down from a year earlier: manufacturing (1,700, or 0.8 percent) and information (1,200, or 4.7 percent).