Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through June 2017)
Iowa JobWatch: Record job boost in June for Iowans
Jobless rate bumps up to 3.2 percent despite sharp increase in payroll jobs

Iowa JobWatch — June 2017

Issued Friday, July 21, 2017

IOWA CITY, Iowa (July 21, 2017) — Iowa payroll jobs rose in June to record levels as the unemployment rate nudged higher to 3.2 percent.

The Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Executive Director Mike Owen about the latest seasonally adjusted jobs data from Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

“An eye-popping increase in Iowa nonfarm jobs highlighted the release of official employment numbers for June. The 11,200-job increase for June was greater than the net increase for the previous 10 months as jobs rose to a record 1,591,800.

“Iowa Workforce Development noted the historically large gain — Iowa’s largest one-month recorded increase — came with growth in industries that are seasonal in nature, with the largest increases coming with summer hiring in leisure and hospitality (recreation and eating/drinking establishments), and local government.

“The June increase may appear larger, in part, because the May preliminary estimate was decreased by 2,500. However, if this one-month change holds and becomes a trend, it is good news for the Iowa economy. There are some good signs:

— Average growth of 2,100 per month over the last 12 months is the best June-to-June average since 2011-12.
— A two-month bump in manufacturing jobs brings that category to its highest mark in 14 months.
— Nonfarm jobs have gained in five of the last seven months.

“This is one of those months where the official numbers appear to conflict — in this case, a lot, with a record job increase but a higher unemployment rate. How can that happen? The nonfarm jobs data, taken from employer surveys, show the positive increase in jobs, while the unemployment rate is taken from a separate household survey, and shows an increase in unemployment. That is one reason we try not to make too much of one-month numbers, but look at the larger trends.”

Job Growth Perspective
Iowa still has not recovered from the Great Recession when accounting for population growth. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa would have had to gain 96,200 net nonfarm jobs to keep up with 6.3 percent population growth since the December 2007 start of the recession, but has gained back 66,600. This leaves a jobs deficit of 29,600.

The Iowa Policy Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization in Iowa City that has been tracking Iowa job issues since its founding in 2001. Find reports at

Key Numbers
• Iowa nonfarm jobs rose by a record 11,200 to 1,591,800 in June, 25,600 ahead of June 2016.
• The 11,200-job increase compares with the previous high gain of 9,200 in June 1994.
• Iowa's unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, up from 3.1 in May and down from 3.8 percent a year earlier.
• Jobs gained in nine of the 11 major job categories. Government jobs increased by 4,000 in June, and leisure-and-hospitality jobs rose by 3,100. Manufacturing showed a 1,600-job boost, along with gains of 1,500 in education and health services and 1,100 in financial activities.
• Declines came in trade, transportation and utilities, down 700 in June, and "other" services, down 400.

Key Trends
• Iowa nonfarm jobs were up 25,600 over the 12 months from June 2016 to June 2017, or an average of about 2,100 jobs per month.
• Over the year, education and health services jobs have gained the most (7,400), followed by trade, transportation and utilities (5,100), financial activities (4,700) and professional and business services (4,600).
• Only one category shows a decline over the previous 12 months — 1,200 in information.