Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through February 2015)
A bump on the slow path to recovery
February payroll jobs dip slightly — as does jobless rate, to 4.1 percent
Iowa JobWatch — February 2015

Issued Friday, March 27, 2015

Iowa nonfarm jobs dipped slightly in February as the unemployment rate also fell from 4.2 percent to 4.1 percent, according to the latest estimates from Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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

“February ended Iowa’s string of four positive months of job growth. The slight dip of 400 jobs is less concerning than the overall continued slow long-term growth in Iowa jobs. Iowa’s pace of 1,800 net new jobs each month over the past year is about the same as it has been over the last four years.

“With an increased population, that pace is nowhere close to what we need to meet the need for more — let alone better — job opportunities in Iowa. We are still about 41,000 jobs short of where we need to be, when population growth is factored in. It is clear our current pace is not sufficient to close that gap anytime soon.”

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 49 months in office, Iowa’s economy has produced 86,100 net new jobs. To add the remaining 113,900 jobs, Iowa would need to add about 10,400 new jobs per month over the next 11 months, compared to a pace of 1,800 for the first 49 months.

While Iowa nonfarm jobs show a net gain of 36,800 from the start of the last recession in 2007, Iowa has a jobs deficit. That is because when 5.1 percent population growth is factored in, Iowa should have added 78,100 jobs over that time span, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Thus, Iowa's job deficit is 41,300.

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs declined in February by 400 to 1,561,700. Nonfarm jobs are 21,800 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
Nonfarm jobs are 33,700 ahead of the recession-era peak of 1,528,000, reached in May 2008, and 36,800 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
The unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.1 percent in February; down from 4.2 percent in January and 4.4 percent in February 2014.
The labor force — those working or looking for work — dropped by 700 from January to 1,716,200 and was up 23,000 over 12 months.
Six sectors posted small gains in February led by manufacturing (1,200), education and health services (1,000). Other gains came in financial activities, construction, leisure and hospitality and “other” services.
Job losses in February included government (1,700), trade & transportation (1,500). Smaller declines came in professional and business services, and information.

Key Trends
The only declining category from February 2014 is information.
Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 1,800 jobs from February 2014 to February 2015.
February was the first month of decline since September in nonfarm jobs. Iowa has shown net job increases in 13 of the last 16 months — though at that same sluggish pace of 1,800 per month.
Over the year, the strongest percentage gains came in construction (9.5 percent) and professional and business services (2.1 percent).