Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through May 2014)
A two-month bump for Iowa jobs
Iowa JobWatch — June 2014

Issued Friday, June 20, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa Workforce Development today reported Iowa nonfarm jobs reached a record high in May, while unemployment rose to 4.4 percent as more people entered the labor force. Heather Gibney

The Iowa Policy Project today released the following statement by Research Associate Heather Gibney about the latest numbers:

“Iowa's up-again, down-again job picture is looking up again, at least for now. The May numbers from the state show an increase of 6,200 jobs. Coming on the heels of a 3,700 increase in April, this marks the first two-month gain since the end of last year, and the increase is the largest since last October.

“One-month results, however, do not tell the whole story of what's happening in the state economy and the job market. Over the past year, Iowa has averaged a gain of about 2,100 jobs per month, which is a modest pace. At this rate it would take about three years for Iowa to completely recover for the losses from the recession.”

Job Growth Perspective
Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Iowa's economy has produced 72,500 net new jobs through the first 40 months of his term. To add the remaining 127,500 jobs, Iowa would need to add almost 6,400 new jobs per month over the next 20 months, compared to the 1,800 pace of the first 40 months.

An approach more relevant to evaluating economic progress is to look at the job numbers in the context of the last national recession. Iowa is now above job levels before and after the recession — but those jobs serve a larger population. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa has had 4.7 percent population growth since the start of the recession in December 2007. The net job gain since the start of the recession is 23,800 — but 71,600 were needed by now to keep up with population growth. Therefore, the state shows a job deficit of 47,800 jobs.

Jobs Deficit graph
Graph reflects Economic Policy Institute analysis

Key Numbers
• Nonfarm jobs increased in May to 1,548,700 from a downward adjusted 1,542,500 in April. Nonfarm jobs are also 25,300 ahead of where they stood a year earlier, and are at their highest level, passing the 1,544,200 record set in December.
• Nonfarm jobs are 23,800 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
• The unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent in May, an increase from 4.3 percent in April but down from 4.8 percent a year earlier.
• The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 3,700 from April and was up 27,300 over 12 months.
• Initial unemployment claims were 10,794 in May, down 0.2 percent since April and 17.9 percent since May 2013. The number of continuing claims — 23,190 — was down 35.9 percent for the month and 25.6 percent for the year.

Key Trends
• Eight sectors posted gains in May with professional and business services up 1,300, leisure and hospitality up 1,200 and manufacturing up 1,100. Other increases came in education and health services (900), construction, government and financial activities (800 each), and mining (100).
• These increases were offset by some moderate losses in other services (500), trade and transportation (200), and information (100).
• Over the year, construction has shown significant improvement — 7 percent (4,600 jobs) ahead of May 2013. Leisure and hospitality has grown 3.5 percent (4,700 jobs). The only full-year declines have been in information (1,200 jobs, or 4.6 percent) and “other” services (200).
• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 2,100 jobs over the last 12 months.