Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through April 2015)
Conflicting signals in Iowa jobs
April setback in nonfarm jobs, but unemployment rate also falls
Iowa JobWatch — April 2015

Issued Wednesday, May 27, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa nonfarm jobs dropped for the first time in seven months, by 1,700 in April, according to the latest estimates from Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state unemployment rate fell from 4.0 percent to 3.8 percent.

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

“Months like April contribute to the long-term trends we’ve observed in Iowa, of slow growth in payroll jobs. The small overall drop was spread across all but four job sectors, and holds the average monthly job growth below 2,000 over the past 12 months.

“Iowa remains well off the pace of creating enough jobs for the size of our population in comparison to the start of the last recession. We have more jobs, but we have more people and the economy hasn't caught up fully.

“The 1,700-job drop for April seems to conflict with the trend in the unemployment rate, but it's important to remember that these figures come from totally different measures — one from a survey of employers, and the other from a household survey. They're not really comparable.

“As a footnote, we would suggest it is a mistake to claim — as Iowa Workforce Development does in this month's statement — that the nonfarm job loss is ‘offset’ by the finding in a separate survey that a greater number of individuals were employed. For one thing, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, and for another, the nonfarm job loss is considerably greater than the increase in people who say they are working.”

Job Growth Perspective
Governor Branstad set a goal of 200,000 new jobs over five years. Through his first 51 months in office, Iowa’s economy has produced 92,500 net new jobs. To add the remaining 109,600 jobs, Iowa would need to add about 12,200 new jobs per month over the next nine months, compared to a monthly pace of about 1,800 for the first 51 months.

While Iowa nonfarm jobs show a net gain of 41,100 from the start of the last recession in 2007, Iowa has a jobs deficit. That is because when 5.3 percent population growth is factored in, Iowa needed to add 80,000 jobs over that time span, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Thus, Iowa's job deficit is 39,000.

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

Key Numbers
Nonfarm jobs fell in April by 1,700 to 1,566,000. Nonfarm jobs are 20,400 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
Nonfarm jobs are 38,000 ahead of the recession-era peak of 1,528,000, last reached in May 2008, and 41,100 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
The unemployment rate dipped for the fourth straight month, to 3.8 percent in April. It stood at 4.4 percent a year earlier.
The labor force — those working or looking for work — dropped by 1,900 from March to 1,713,200 and was up 15,100 over 12 months.
Four sectors posted gains in April led by construction with 2,400 and "other" services with 1,600. Leisure and hospitality, and education and health services posted smaller gains.
Manufacturing led job losses in April, falling by 3,200, with trade, transportation and utilities down 1,000, government down 900 and financial activities down 700.

Key Trends
Four categories were down from a year earlier, led by manufacturing at 2,800 and information at 1,300. Down by smaller amounts were financial activities and mining.
Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 1,700 jobs from April 2014 to April 2015.
Over the year, the strongest percentage gains came in construction, 7.5 percent, and “other” services, 4.2 percent. Information jobs were down 5 percent over the year.