Iowa's Job Market Tightens as Unemployment Rate Drops to 2.8 Percent in December

Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: January 23, 2018
Contact: Cory Kelly
Telephone: 515-330-5646
Email:  cory.kelly@iwd.iowa.gov

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Iowa’s Job Market Tightens as Unemployment Rate Drops to 2.8 Percent in December

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 2.8 percent for December. The state’s jobless rate was 3.5 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent in December for the third straight month.

"Iowa businesses finished 2017 strong, bolstering payrolls by 7,100 jobs in December. Iowa factories have added 11,700 jobs in 2017," said Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development Director. "With an unemployment rate at 2.8%, Iowa must address the shortage in skilled workers. It will take all hands on deck to sustain this economic growth including support from our partners in K-12, community colleges, universities, business and industry, economic developers and non-profits - all of whom participated in writing the Future Ready Iowa strategic plan. The plan will put Iowa in a position to create and sustain the skilled workforce we need now and in the future."

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 47,000 in December. The current estimate is 12,000 lower than the year ago level of 59,000.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,637,800 in December. This figure was 200 higher than November and 3,200 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

In December, Iowa establishments added 7,100 jobs and lifted the total number of jobs to 1,600,100. This month’s increase marks the eighth monthly increase in 2017 versus just four months of losses. Growth was fueled by several sectors of the economy, particularly manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation. Additionally, the December gain follows another sizable increase in November. In total, private sectors advanced by 5,800 jobs this month. On the other hand, government added 1,300 jobs this month due to gains in local government and now stands 1,000 jobs higher than last year.

Manufacturing added the most jobs in December (+3,300) with the largest gains being in durable goods factories (+2,400). Non-durable goods factories added 900 jobs due in part to hiring in food production. This gain marks the fourth-consecutive for manufacturing to end the year. Healthcare and social assistance added 1,600 jobs to fuel all of the growth in the education and healthcare super sector. Healthcare and social assistance also had a sizable gain in November (+1,200). Trade and transportation fared well due to larger-than-expected gains in transportation and warehousing this month and was up 1,400 jobs. Much of this spike was due to a surge in parcel delivery related to holiday shopping. Like years past, retail was somewhat sluggish to end the year and was down 300 jobs in December. This trend in decreasing retail employment may be partially attributable to a shift toward online shopping and decreased reliance on brick-and-mortar stores during the holidays. Smaller sector gains this month included leisure and hospitality (+1,000) and financial activities (+700). Private sector losses were limited to construction (-1,300), professional and business services (-500), and other services (-400).

Annually, the state of Iowa has gained 28,300 jobs. Manufacturing leads the way in jobs added with 11,700 over the last twelve months. Growth for this sector began in May with 12,400 jobs being added over the past eight months. Education and healthcare has gained 6,900 jobs annually, followed by leisure and hospitality, up 6,600 jobs. Sector losses have been strongest in construction (-7,500) in the wake of a booming 2016. Smaller losses occurred in other services (-1,600) and information (-700).

MEDIA ALERT:  An audio cut of comments about Iowa’s labor market situation is available by calling (515) 281-6057. Statewide and local data for January 2018 will be released on Monday, March 12, 2018.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
           
        Change from
  December November December November December
  2017 2017 2016 2017 2016
           
Civilian labor force 1,684,800 1,686,700 1,693,600 -1,900 -8,800
Unemployment 47,000 49,100 59,000 -2,100 -12,000
Unemployment rate 2.8% 2.9% 3.5% -0.1 -0.7
Employment 1,637,800 1,637,600 1,634,600 200 3,200
           
U.S. unemployment rate 4.1% 4.1% 4.7% 0.0 -0.6
           
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
           
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,600,100 1,593,000 1,571,800 7,100 28,300
Mining 2,600 2,600 2,300 0 300
Construction 73,600 74,900 81,100 -1,300 -7,500
Manufacturing 222,600 219,300 210,900 3,300 11,700
Trade, transportation and utilities 320,700 319,300 317,000 1,400 3,700
Information 21,000 20,900 21,700 100 -700
Financial activities 114,600 113,900 110,000 700 4,600
Professional and business services 142,500 143,000 139,200 -500 3,300
Education and health services 235,100 233,600 228,200 1,500 6,900
Leisure and hospitality 149,300 148,300 142,700 1,000 6,600
Other services 58,600 59,000 60,200 -400 -1,600
Government 259,500 258,200 258,500 1,300 1,000
 (above data subject to revision)          

 

Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
           
        % Change from
  December November December November December
  2017 2017 2016 2017 2016
           
Initial claims 26,587 14,395 29,296 84.7% -9.2%
Continued claims          
     Number of claimants 27,146 19,625 33,472 38.3% -18.9%
     Weeks paid 83,932 66,245 106,093 26.7% -20.9%
     Amount paid $31,996,661 $24,462,032 $39,746,565 30.8% -19.5%

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