Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through August 2013)
Weak Spot in Job Recovery
Iowa JobWatch — September 2013

Issued Friday, September 20, 2013

Iowa nonfarm jobs declined in August for the first time in five months as the unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent from 4.8 percent in July. The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project (IPP) released this statement from Executive Director Mike Owen:

“Coming on the heels of new Census data showing the lagging performance of Iowa’s recovery in terms of poverty and income, the August job numbers punctuated the end of the week with a sour note.

“While it's never a good idea to make too much of one month, August was not a strong one for Iowa jobs and the report includes a downward revision for July as well.

“August — with a positive back-to-school bump in government employment — was a good short-term illustration of how public-sector jobs can counteract negative trends in the private sector. The only sizable job growth during the month came in government jobs — a 3,700 increase — while most of the private-sector job categories declined.”

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

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs decreased by 900 in August to 1,532,500 from a downwardly revised 1,533,400 in July. Nonfarm jobs were 19,800 ahead of where they stood last July.
— Nonfarm jobs remain 7,600 above the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
— The unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent in August, up from 4.8 percent in July but down from 5.3 percent a year earlier.
— The labor force rose by 3,000 and was up 20,900 over the year.
Initial unemployment claims were 11,996 in August, down from 13,362 in July; they were down 10.2 percent for the month and down 6.1 percent from August 2012. The number of continuing claims — 24,912 — was down 10.8 percent for the month and down 7.9 percent for the year.

Key Trends
Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 1,700 jobs over the last 12 months, and 2,100 in 2013.
Government jobs posted the largest gains in August (3,700), with education and health services (500) and construction (200) also showing increases, and mining unchanged. All other sectors showed declines, trade, transportation and utilities the largest at 1,300, and professional and business services next at 1,200.
Over the year, construction jobs are up 4,500, and jobs are up 4,400 in manufacturing and in professional and business services. Government jobs are down 2,200, as are other services jobs, by 700.

Job Growth Perspective
Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Iowa's economy has produced 56,600 net new jobs through the first 31 months of his term. To add the remaining 143,400 jobs, Iowa would need to 4,900 new jobs per month over almost 2 1/2 years (29 months). Iowa has not sustained growth of even 2,000 jobs per month over a calendar year since the 1990s.
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 4.1 percent since the start of the 2007 recession; so, despite a net gain of 7,600 jobs since then, Iowa remains 55,100 jobs behind what would be needed not only to regain all lost ground during the recession and also keep up with population growth.