Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through September 2014)
Job Numbers Inching Forward
Slow Pace, But Increases in 7 of 8 Months
Iowa JobWatch — October 2014

Issued Tuesday, October 21, 2014


IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Iowa Policy Project released this statement from Research Associate Heather Gibney regarding the September job numbers provided today by Iowa Workforce Development.

“Iowa is continuing to see job growth in 2014, though at a slower pace in the last two months, and at a sluggish pace over the last year — about 1,800 jobs a month. The net gain is about 1.4 percent over that time.

“Iowa’s population has grown since the start of the last recession, and we need to add more jobs to make up for that. We remain almost 46,000 jobs behind — that is Iowa's jobs deficit. Closing that gap for folks entering the labor market means we need to set a much faster pace of job growth than what we’re seeing.” (Graph below)

Job Growth Perspective
Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Iowa’s economy has produced 80,000 net new jobs through the first 44 months of his term. To add the remaining 120,000 jobs, Iowa would need to add 7,500 new jobs per month over the next 16 months, compared to a pace of 1,800 for the first 44 months.

At the Iowa Policy Project, we have suggested for some time that real progress on jobs is not measured by a Governor’s term or other politically derived goals, but in terms of business cycles. The best measure is one offered by the Economic Policy Institute, which looks at how close we are to the job level at the start of the last recession (December 2007), adjusted for 5 percent population growth in Iowa from that time. By that measure, Iowa's jobs deficit is 45,500 as of September 2014.

Iowa Needs Faster Job Growth to Keep Up with Population Growth Jobs Deficit graph

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs increased in September by 1,300 to 1,556,200. Nonfarm jobs are 22,100 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
Nonfarm jobs are 28,200 ahead of the May 2008 peak of 1,528,000, and 31,300 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
The unemployment rate increased slightly to 4.6 percent in September; higher than the 4.5 percent that we saw a year earlier.
The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 4,600 from August to 1,707,500 and was up 35,900 over 12 months.
Initial unemployment claims were 8,590 in September, down 24.9 percent from August and 2 percent from a year earlier. The number of continuing claims — 19,739 — was down 14.4 percent for the month and down 10.3 percent for the year.
Five sectors posted gains in September: construction (1,600), government (1,500), education and health services (1,300), financial activities (400) and other services (100).
These increases were offset by losses of 1,600 in leisure and hospitality, 1,000 in trade, transportation and utilities, 700 in professional and business services, and 100 each in mining, manufacturing and information.

Key Trends
All job sectors except information and manufacturing have shown net gains over the last 12 months.
Iowa averaged a monthly increase of over 1,800 jobs over the last 12 months.
Iowa has shown net job increases in seven of the last eight months after a big drop in January, with an overall increase of 18,600 in those eight months — an average of 2,300 per month