Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through July 2015)
Strong month carries caution
Sharp rise in July nonfarm jobs, jobless rate up to 3.8 percent
Iowa JobWatch — August 2015

Issued Monday, August 24, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa nonfarm jobs rose by 8,100 in July following a downward revision for June, as the state unemployment rate rose to 3.8 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:

“July turned out to be a strong month for Iowa jobs, but this demands a couple notes of caution. One is that, as we often point out, these are one-month numbers and they do not always reflect the longer-term trends, which are more important. Iowa has gained about 1,900 jobs per month over the last 4 1/2 years, so an 8,100 one-month gain, while welcome, will need to be evaluated over time. If that preliminary estimate holds, it would be the largest increase since an 8,100 jump exactly two years earlier.

“The number we should be watching is how jobs compare — allowing for population growth — with where they stood at the start of the last recession. And Iowa is still behind on that score, by 31,000 jobs.

“Another point of caution is that July was one of those months that showed conflicting signals — a higher unemployment rate but a significant boost in the number of nonfarm or payroll jobs. This reflects the fact that the numbers are drawn from separate sources — jobs from an employer survey, and the unemployment rate from a smaller survey of households.”

Job Growth Perspective
The July numbers leave Iowa 31,000 jobs short of what is needed, accounting for 5.5 percent population growth, to match payroll jobs at the start of the 2007-09 recession. (Economic Policy Institute)

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 sharply in July by 8,100 to a record high of 1,577,400 from 1,569,300 in June, after accounting for a significant downward revision of 1,300 jobs. Nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) are 30,900 ahead of where they stood in July 2014.
• The unemployment rate rose to 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent, and was down from 4.3 percent a year earlier.
• The labor force — those working or looking for work — fell by 4,000 from June to 1,700,400, which was 6,200 behind July 2014. At the same time, the number reporting they were unemployed stayed the same, while those reporting they were employed fell by 4,000.
• Nine of the 11 major job sectors posted gains in July — the largest 3,700 in education and health services. Government jobs gained 2,000, with other notable gains in leisure and hospitality (1,600), financial activities (1,500) and manufacturing (1,300).
• Professional and business services dropped by 2,700, and trade and transportation fell by 900, the only sectors showing declines.

Key Trends
• Over the last 21 months, Iowa has gained nonfarm or payroll jobs in 18.
• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of about 2,600 jobs from July 2014 to July 2015.
• Over the year, the strongest percentage gains came in construction, 6.4 percent (4,800 jobs). "Other" services were up 3.4 percent and financial activities up 3 percent.
• Only one category remained down from a year earlier: information by 3.1 percent (800 jobs).