Large Growth in Labor Force and Jobs Pushes Iowa Unemployment Rate to 3.0 in January

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s unemployment rate was 3.0 percent in January, down from the 3.1 percent initially announced in December. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate decreased to 3.4 percent. Iowa’s December unemployment rate was also revised to 3.0 percent.

The total number of unemployed Iowans fell to 51,100 in January, down 1,200 from revised December data. The total number of working Iowans decreased by 500 to 1,669,900, although it remains 10,800 above January 2022.

An increase of 8,300 jobs to start the year helped Iowa achieve a 68.1 percent labor force participation rate in January. The labor force participation rate was down slightly from a revised December rate of 68.2 percent, but up from the previously announced labor force participation rate of 67.6 percent and remains near the highest level Iowa has seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The significant increases in both the number of Iowans with jobs and the number of people rejoining the labor force are very positive signs,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa has worked hard over the last year to make it easier to connect Iowans with open jobs, including adding one-on-one assistance through our Reemployment Case Management program from the first week of unemployment. Decreasing the amount of time between jobs helps working Iowans and our employers who are looking for hardworking new employees. This is the engine that helps fuel our economy.”

The last five years of monthly labor force data (2018-2022) recently were revised as part of a required review by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. This “benchmarking” is the annual process of re-estimating statistics as more complete data becomes available, such as updated data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Prior-year estimates for the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) programs – key statistical measures of employment – are benchmarked annually. Revised data are incorporated in January employment statistics when they are released each March.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa’s establishments added 8,300 jobs to begin the year, raising total nonfarm employment to an all-time high of 1,591,300 jobs. This monthly gain is sizable and largely the result of goods-producing industries bolstering staffing levels in January. Combined, goods-producers added 5,400 jobs and private service industries advanced by 2,300 jobs. Government increased slightly (+600) thanks to hiring in state government education.

Construction added the most jobs in January (+3,900), a sizable increase that may evidence that workers in this industry are increasingly working later into the year. The increase pushed construction to its highest-so-far employment level in Iowa at 86,200 jobs. Manufacturing rose again in January (+1,400). Gains were generally within nondurable goods shops and concentrated within food manufacturing and animal slaughtering and processing. Other increases included health care and social assistance (+1,300). Alternatively, job losses were smaller in magnitude and concentrated in administrative support and waste management (-900).

Annually, Iowa firms have added 38,200 jobs to their payrolls over the past twelve months. Substantial gains have been in leisure and hospitality (+8,400) as more firms return to pre-COVID operating levels. Private education has also grown substantially over the past twelve months (+6,000) as most institutions are back to in-person learning in some capacity. Other gains included construction (+5,900) and health care and social assistance (+5,700).  Those sectors showing weakness since last year include administrative support and waste management (-2,200) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-1,000).

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