Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through July 2014)
Beneath smooth surface, job activity up and down
Iowa JobWatch — August 2014

Issued Monday, August 18, 2014


IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa nonfarm jobs showed no net change in July, while more Iowans entered the labor force and pushed the unemployment rate up to 4.5 percent. The Iowa Policy Project today released the following statement by Research Associate Heather Gibney about the latest numbers:

“A steady overall job number from June to July disguised mixed performance in Iowa's major job sectors during the month. Education and health services were up, while both the government and the trade, transportation and utilities categories were down.

“The overall stagnation for July further slowed Iowa's pace of growth in nonfarm jobs over the past year, to about 1,400 per month. We still have to add almost 49,000 jobs to keep up with population growth from the start of the recession. That's our job deficit and policy makers should be paying more attention to that number.”

Job Growth Perspective
Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Iowa's economy has produced 74,000 net new jobs through the first 42 months of his term. To add the remaining 126,000 jobs, Iowa would need to add 7,000 new jobs per month over the next 18 months, compared to a pace of 1,800 for the first 42 months.

An approach more relevant to evaluating economic progress is to look at the job numbers in the context of recovery from the last national recession. Iowa is now above pre-recession job levels — but those jobs serve a 4.9 percent larger population, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The net job gain since the December 2007 start of the recession is 25,300 — but 74,200 were needed by now to keep up with population growth. Therefore, the state shows a job deficit of 48,900 jobs.

Jobs Deficit graph
Graph reflects Economic Policy Institute analysis

Key Numbers
• Nonfarm jobs held steady in July at 1,550,200. Nonfarm jobs are 16,500 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
• Nonfarm jobs are 22,200 ahead of the May 2008 peak of 1,528,000, and 25,300 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
• The unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent in July from 4.4 percent in June, but down from 4.8 percent a year earlier.
• The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 1,700 from June to 1,700,700 and was up 26,600 over 12 months.
• Initial unemployment claims were 12,890 in July, up 41 percent from June but down 3.5 percent from a year earlier. The number of continuing claims — 24,679 — was up 17 percent for the month and down 12 percent for the year.
• Six sectors posted gains in July led by education and health (2,800), construction (1,000), professional and business services (1,000) and financial activities (800).
• These increases were offset by losses of 2,300 in trade, transportation and utilities, and in leisure and hospitality, as well as a 1,400 drop in government jobs.

Key Trends
• All job sectors except information have shown net gains over the last 12 months. Construction jobs are up nearly 6 percent over the year, with changes in other major categories up by less than 2 percent over 12 months.
• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of about 1,400 jobs over the last 12 months.
• For a full year, Iowa has remained above the previous job peak of 1,528,000, reached in May 2008, just before jobs began to plummet during the last recession.
• Iowa has shown a net jobs gain in 11 of the last 15 months.