Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through October 2016)
Second straight month of job losses
Jobless rate drops to 4.1 percent but payroll numbers fall

Iowa JobWatch — October 2016

Issued Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Nov. 22, 2016) — Iowa dropped payroll jobs for the second straight month as the unemployment rate dipped to 4.1 percent in October.

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

“Job losses in September and October may be setting back Iowa’s recent trends of job growth. We are seeing conflicting signs from different measures, as the number of payroll jobs fell but the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in October.

“The one-month, 4,500 drop in payroll jobs is the third month in 2016 with a drop of 4,000 or more. This has held the state to a per-month average job growth of only 1,000, which is below Iowa’s slow-growth pace of the last seven years.

“We cannot share IWD Director Beth Townsend’s sentiment that the state’s unemployment rate ‘indicates our economy remains stronger than much of the rest of the country.’ You simply cannot make such assumptions based on the unemployment rate — especially when we’re seeing Iowa numbers dip in some of the traditionally better-paying job categories of construction and manufacturing.”

Job Growth Perspective
Iowa’s performance in job creation lags what would be necessary to keep up with population growth since the start of the last recession in December 2007. This jobs deficit is 36,500 (see light blue area below dotted red line in graph below), according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The Iowa Jobs Deficit

JobWatch graphs
Source: Economic Policy Institute

Key Numbers
Iowa nonfarm jobs dropped to 1,583,900 in October, down 4,500 from a slightly upwardly revised 1,588,400 in September.
Iowa's unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, down from 4.2 percent in September and August.
Six of the 11 major job categories showed gains, but most were small. The largest was 2,200 in the “other services” category. Leisure and hospitality added 1,200 jobs and trade, transportation and utilities added 1,100. Other gains were 400 in financial activities and 100 each in professional and business services, and mining.
Government jobs led declines with 2,800, followed by education and health services (2,400), construction (2,200), manufacturing (1,700) and information (500).

Key Trends
Iowa nonfarm jobs were up 18,000 over the 12 months from October 2015 to October 2016, or an average of about 1,500 jobs per month — about 1.1 percent growth.
Iowa has gained nonfarm jobs in eight of the last 12 months.
• Despite the October decline, construction jobs have gained the most over the year, 10,400 jobs, or about a 13 percent increase. Jobs in two service sectors — education and health services, and leisure and hospitality — have shown the next largest 12-month gains (4,900 and 4,000, respectively).
Four categories have shown declines over the last year: manufacturing (5,200), professional and business services (3,600), information (1,200) and government (500).
Two of Iowa’s four largest job sectors — manufacturing and government — show declines over the last 12 months.

The Iowa Policy Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization in Iowa City that has been tracking Iowa job issues since its founding in 2001. Find reports at