Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through July 2013)
Promise — But How Much Progress?
Iowa JobWatch — August 2013

Issued Monday, August 19, 2013

Iowa added 5,000 or more nonfarm jobs for the third straight month in July, but the unemployment rate rose to 4.8 percent from 4.6 percent in June. The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project (IPP) released this statement from Research Associate Heather Gibney:

“The latest job numbers are promising — three straight months with increases at 5,000 or more. But it’s important to recognize that we do have a continuing jobs deficit.

“We are 2 1/2 years into the five-year window Governor Branstad set for his goal of 200,000 new jobs, so Iowans might be looking at how far we are from that number today — and we are well off the pace of what is needed to reach that target.

“We think there’s a better way to gauge our progress, and we should use the start of the recession, not a governor’s term, as the baseline. The Economic Policy Institute has come up with a sensible measure: jobs added, plus jobs needed to keep up with population growth. On that score, we’re about 52,000 down.

“So, there is a real jobs deficit; it's not tied to political terms but to the economy. And finally, as we have noted before, we must remember that not all jobs are the same. The numbers do not reveal hours, pay and benefits of jobs being lost vs. those gained. And those quality differences matter in the job market and in the economy overall.”

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

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs increased by 5,000 in July to a record high of 1,534,600 from 1,529,600 in June. Nonfarm jobs were 25,500 ahead of where they stood last July.
— Nonfarm jobs are now 6,600 above the pre-recession peak of 1,528,000 (May 2008), and 9,700 above the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
— The unemployment rate rose to 4.8 percent in July, up from 4.6 percent in June but down from 5.5 percent a year earlier.
Initial unemployment claims were 13,362 in July, up 22.6 percent from June and down 5.3 percent from July 2012. The number of continuing claims — 27,928 — was up 7.4 percent for the month and down 3.4 percent for the year.

Key Trends
Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 2,100 jobs over the last 12 months, and 2,700 in 2013 — with three straight months of gains of 5,000 or more.
Six sectors posted gains in July with government (up 2,300) and construction (up 1,600) leading the way. Three sectors showed small declines, manufacturing the largest at 600, while mining and leisure-hospitality were unchanged.
Over the year, professional and business services jobs are up 5,100, with construction and manufacturing both up 4,800. Government jobs are down 1,400.

Job Growth Goals
Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Iowa's economy has produced 58,700 net new jobs through the first 30 months of his term. To add the remaining 141,300 jobs, Iowa would need to 4,700 new jobs per month over 2 1/2 years. Iowa has not put up numbers like that over a sustained period.
Another approach would use estimates by the Economic Policy Institute, which projects jobs needed to make up for jobs lost, plus keep up with population growth. Iowa’s population has increased by about 4 percent since the start of the 2007 recession; so, despite a net gain of 9,700 jobs since then, Iowa remains 51,900 jobs behind what would be needed not only to regain all lost ground during the recession and also keep up with population growth.