Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through February 2016)
Big bump in the road in February
Big drop in payroll jobs following January boost — jobless rate at 3.7 percent
Iowa JobWatch — February 2016

Issued Friday, March 25, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (March 25, 2016) — A 6,200-job drop in February wiped out big gains in January as Iowa’s economy settled back into its overall sluggish job picture, according to new data released today by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD).

The unemployment rate stood at 3.7 percent in February, a significant one-month bump from 3.5 percent in January, and the same level as in February 2015.

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

“After a strong January, a 6,200-job drop in February wiped out almost all the net gain. Only two job sectors showed gains for the month.

“The combined January-February results show why it's so important to take a step back and watch the longer-term trends. And once again, we can see those trends for Iowa remain slow, with four monthly declines in the last year. We continue to be better off in terms of raw numbers than we have been throughout the recovery from the Great Recession, but the pace is very slow.”

Job Growth Perspective
• The latest report gives the final determination* on Governor Branstad's goal for 200,000 new jobs in five years. It shows that job growth from January 2011 through January 2016 was considerably off the pace envisioned by the Governor in 2010, when he set the goal. Iowa created just over half the number needed — 104,500 — over those 60 months. Even using the counting method promoted by the Governor, leaving out selected job losses, the performance was well short — 184,000. Over that time, Iowa would have needed to add about 3,300 jobs a month, but instead averaged about 1,700.

• According to the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa still has a job deficit of 37,700 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 87,200 jobs since December 2007, but as of January had added 49,500 — or a gap of 37,700.

* subject to annual data adjustments to be conducted in 2017

Key Numbers
• Nonfarm jobs fell in February by 6,200 to 1,574,400 from a downwardly revised 1,580,600 in January. Nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) were 15,800 ahead of where they stood in February 2015.
• The unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent in February from 3.5 percent in January. The rate was also 3.7 percent a year earlier.
• The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 4,600 to 1,714,100, and was 12,900 ahead of February 2015.
• Nine of the 11 major job sectors showed declines in February, the largest drops coming in leisure and hospitality (3,100), professional and business services (2,400).
• Two sectors gained for the month: education and health services (2,200) and financial activities (500).

Key Trends
• Over the last two years, Iowa has gained nonfarm or payroll jobs in all but six months, but four of those declines were in the past 10 months.
• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of about 1,300 jobs from February 2015 to February 2016.
• Over the last 12 months, the strongest percentage gains were in “other” services, up 6.6 percent (3,900 jobs), and construction, up 5.5 percent (4,300 jobs).
• Four of the major 11 job categories were down from a year earlier: manufacturing (3,100, or 1.4 percent), information (1,600, or 6.3 percent), professional and business services (1,800, or 1.3 percent), and mining (100, or 4.3 percent.