Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through May 2015)
Job growth ‘painfully slow’
May jobs erase April losses as jobless rate stays at 3.8 percent
Iowa JobWatch — May 2015

Issued Friday, June 19, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A May increase of 2,200 jobs kept Iowa on a long-term slow pace in job growth, according to the latest estimates from Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state unemployment rate stayed at 3.8 percent for the second straight month.

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

“Despite monthly fluctuations, it's hard to miss the long-term trend of painfully slow job growth for Iowa. But at least it is on the positive side.

“Nonfarm jobs have risen by about 1,800 on average over the last six months, over the last 12 months — even over the last four years. Over the last 19 months, jobs showed net gains in 16 of them, and overall by that same 1,800 average.”

Job Growth Perspective
The May numbers leave Iowa 37,800 jobs short of what is needed, with population growth, to match payroll jobs at the start of the last recession. (Source: Economic Policy Institute)

“At our current pace, this jobs deficit shows Iowa still has a steep climb to full recovery, let alone to Governor Branstad's unattainable goal of 200,000 jobs over five years,” Owen said. “We're not even halfway to that goal with only eight months to go.”

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 rose in May by 2,200 to 1,568,200, following a 1,700 drop in April. Nonfarm jobs are 21,400 ahead of where they stood in May 2014.
The unemployment rate stayed at 3.8 percent for the second straight month, and down from 4.4 percent a year earlier.
The labor force — those working or looking for work — fell by 2,900 from April to 1,710,500 and was up 9,800 over 12 months.
Six major job sectors posted gains in May — the largest 1,700 in manufacturing and 1,300 in education and health services. Leisure and hospitality, financial activities, professional and business services, and mining all posted gains under 1,000.
Construction dropped by 1,400 in May, the largest drop among five sectors showing declines, and unusual for a category that had shown increases in eight of the previous nine months. All other declines in May were by less than 1,000.

Key Trends
Over the last 19 months, Iowa has gained nonfarm jobs in 16.
• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 1,800 jobs from May 2014 to May 2015.
Over the year, the strongest percentage gains came in construction, 5.9 percent (4,400 jobs). "Other" services were up 3.4 percent and leisure and hospitality jobs up 2.9 percent for the year.
Three categories were down from a year earlier: manufacturing by 1,300, information by 1,100 and mining by 100.