Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through February 2013)
Iowa JobWatch: Job Growth Slows, Jobless Rate Holds
Nonfarm jobs up slightly in February — jobless rate stays at 5 percent

Issued Friday, March 29, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa (March 29, 2013) — State officials today reported Iowa’s unemployment rate held at 5 percent in February and that employers in the state added a net 800 jobs — a relatively steady performance following a significant boost of 4,300 jobs in January.

The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Executive Director David Osterberg:

“The start of the year has been positive for jobs in Iowa, though February was considerably off the pace of January. Still, we caution against making too much of one-month changes in job numbers, up or down — and advocate for a longer-term view.

“With Iowa growing closer to the number of payroll jobs we saw before the 2007 recession — again, a positive sign — it also is important to note two key points about these numbers.

“First, neither the nonfarm (payroll) job numbers nor the unemployment rate measures job quality. And as we have seen from our State of Working Iowa report, the issue of ‘underemployment’ is very real. In the wake of the recession, many people are working in part-time jobs or jobs that don’t use all of the worker’s skills but are the best they can find.

“And second, as Iowa's population has grown since the onset of the recession, we need to recognize that an apples-to-apples comparison of job numbers needs to account for more jobs needed to meet the growing demand. So, while we are only 4,100 jobs behind the job level at the start of the recession in December 2007, that is not enough. The Economic Policy Institute has estimated Iowa’s ‘jobs deficit’ at 60,900 — reflecting 3.7 percent population growth since the recession began.”

nonfarm jobs change by month, 2012
Source: Iowa Workforce Development, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Key Numbers
— Nonfarm jobs rose in February by 800 to 1,520,800, and were 19,100 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
— Nonfarm jobs are 7,200 behind the May 2008 peak of 1,528,000, and 4,100 behind the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
The unemployment rate stayed steady at 5 percent in February, down from 5.4 percent a year earlier.
Initial unemployment claims were 11,991 in February, down 47 percent from January, and down 11 percent from February 2012. The number of continuing claims — 46,485 — was down 15 percent for the month and 7 percent for the year.

Key Trends
— Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 1,600 jobs over the last 12 months.
All sectors gained marginally in the month except trade and transportation (down 2,400) and information (down 400). Manufacturing posted a 900-job gain, the largest in any sector.
Over the year, manufacturing remained up 7,300 from 12 months earlier. The only net decline came in information (down 300) as other sectors posted net gains over the year.