Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through January 2015)
Slow-growth start to 2015
January payroll jobs show slight increase as jobless rate dips to 4.2 percent
Iowa JobWatch — January 2015

Issued Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Iowa nonfarm jobs rose in January as the unemployment rate fell from 4.3 percent to 4.2 percent. The official report from Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes annual revisions of previous nonfarm jobs estimates.

The Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Executive Director Mike Owen:

“A fresh look at Iowa’s job numbers by government economists finds the same story we’ve seen since the 2007-09 recession: Iowa job numbers are growing, but growth is slow.

“Iowa has added jobs in all but two of the last 15 months — but the pace is staggeringly slow, at about 1,900 net new jobs each month.

“Another page has turned in the ongoing count against Governor Terry Branstad’s stated job-creation goal of 200,000 new jobs in five years. January marked the four-year mark; through 80 percent of the goal period, Iowa has created about 43 percent of the jobs needed to meet the goal.”

The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research and analysis organization in Iowa City. IPP has issued monthly job reports since 2003. IPP analysis is available at

Job Growth Perspective
Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Through his first four years in office, Iowa’s economy has produced almost 87,000 net new jobs (86,600). To add the remaining 113,000 jobs, Iowa would need to add about 9,500 new jobs per month over the next 12 months, compared to a pace of 1,800 for the first 48 months.

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs increased in January by 3,100 to 1,562,200. Nonfarm jobs are 24,800 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
• Nonfarm jobs are 34,200 ahead of the recession-era peak of 1,528,000 (May 2008), and 37,300 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
The unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.2 percent in January; down from 4.3 percent in December and 4.4 percent in January 2014.
The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 900 from December to 1,716,500 and was up 25,700 over 12 months.
Five sectors posted gains in January: trade and transportation (2,200), professional and business services (1,800), government (1,400), leisure and hospitality (800) and manufacturing (100).
January losses came in education and health services (1,300), construction (900), “other” services (700), financial activities (200) and mining (100).

Key Trends
All job sectors except information and manufacturing have shown net gains over the last 12 months.
• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 2,100 jobs from January 2014 to January 2015.
Iowa has shown net job increases in 13 of the last 15 months — though at a sluggish pace overall, with an average increase of 1,900 per month.
Over the year, the strongest percentage gains came in construction (9.3 percent), with professional and business services (3.1 percent). Among the largest four job sectors — manufacturing, trade and transportation, education and health services, and government — all gained, but by 2 percent or less.