Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through September 2011)
Iowa Jobless Rate Dips, But So Do Jobs
Unemployment Back to 6 Percent; Nonfarm Job Pace Wilting

Issued Friday, October 21, 2011

The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) today released the following statement about the latest Iowa job figures provided by the state. IPP is a nonpartisan research organization that regularly tracks trends and public policy affecting Iowa jobs and prosperity:

IPP Executive Director David Osterberg noted Iowa has lost nonfarm jobs in three of the last four months — a net drop of 4,600 — after a strong start in the first five months of 2011.

“We should not be lulled into complacency with the drop in the unemployment rate. The rate has been hovering around 6 percent as the labor force has declined — that is the reason for the drop. Our recovery is slow and it's inconsistent, and it's going to take a while just to make up the 46,000 net loss of jobs that we show over the last three-plus years.

“A robust recovery, the likes of which we saw in the 1990s, or the first half of this year, would show consistent growth month to month. We're nowhere close to that right now.

“This nagging picture has important public-policy implications. First, we continue to shed public-sector jobs at a time when the economy could use more investment. Public infrastructure improvements can boost jobs in manufacturing, construction and supporting industries. Furthermore, when unemployment is high we must keep up services for families that are working fewer hours than they want or in work that does not tap their full potential.

“This means extending unemployment benefits, expanding work supports for low-income working Iowans and assuring that we have public workers on the job to meet the demand. These sorts of investments will stop the erosion of public-sector jobs that also support the economy.”

nonfarm jobs average 1991-2011 Note — 2011 average covers nine months.
Source: Iowa Workforce Development, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Key Numbers
— Payroll (or nonfarm) jobs in September stood at 1,482,200, down 5,700 from an upwardly revised August figure of 1,487,900 and up 18,000 from the September 2010 level of 1,484,200.
— Iowa nonfarm jobs stood 46,000 below their peak in May 2008 (1,528,200).
— Iowa's unemployment rate was 6.0 percent in September, down from 6.1 percent in August and from 6.2 percent a year earlier.
— The labor force fell by 3,500 from August, to 1,664,800 people working or looking for work, and was 9,800 down from a year earlier.

Key Trends
— Nonfarm jobs have risen in eight of the last 12 months but have dropped in three of the last four.
— The pace of nonfarm jobs is, on average, an increase of about 1,500 jobs per month for the first nine months of 2011. Iowa's pace was much stronger earlier in the year, running at a robust average of 3,500 per month through the first five months. Over the last four months, the average is a net job loss, of 1,100 per month.
— The only increases in September came in trade, transportation and utilities (1,400), financial activities (300) and education and health services (200). The tiny mining sector was unchanged. All other sectors fell, including leisure and hospitality at 2,300 and government at 2,100.
— Over the year, the biggest gains have been in trade, transportation and utilities at 6,500, leisure and hospitality at 6,400, manufacturing at 4,800, and education and health services at 4,300. Declines have included financial activities by 2,200, government by 2,000, and other services by 2,000.