Iowa JobWatch — Latest Numbers (through February 2019)
Iowa JobWatch: Big February drop in Iowa jobs
Jobless rate stays at historical low of 2.4 percent

Iowa JobWatch — March 2019

Issued Friday, March 22, 2019

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Mar. 22, 2019) — The number of Iowa payroll jobs saw a sharp downturn in February. The unemployment rate hovered at 2.4 percent.

The Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Research Associate Natalie Veldhouse about the latest seasonally adjusted jobs data from Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"With a loss of 5,500 payroll jobs in February, 2019 is off to a bad start in terms of job growth. We don't focus too heavily on a one-month performance, but it is a setback and it leaves monthly job growth at only 500, on average, over the previous 12 months. These numbers are a far cry from getting us back to pre-recession job numbers.

“We continue to see a low unemployment rate in Iowa. This does not, however, speak to job quality -- the adequacy of wages or benefits.”

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nonfarm jobs by month
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 decreased by 5,500 jobs to a total of 1,587,900 in February, 5,800 ahead of February 2018.
• Iowa's unemployment rate remained at its 18-year low of 2.4 percent, compared with 2.7 percent a year earlier.
• Eight of the 11 major job categories showed losses in February — the largest a 2,400 drop in leisure & hospitality, 1,500 in trade & transportation, and 900 in professional & business services.
• The largest increase was in “other” services (400), followed by financial activities (200).

Key Trends
• Over the year, manufacturing leads gains at 8,400; five other categories showed gains, but none over 600 (professional and business services).
• Five categories declined over the previous 12 months, with the largest losses in government (1,900), and education and health services (1,000).

Job Growth Perspective
Iowa jobs still have not recovered from the Great Recession when accounting for population growth. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa would have had to gain 104,800 net nonfarm jobs to keep up with 6.9 percent population growth since the December 2007 start of the last recession, but has gained 68,100. This leaves a jobs deficit of 36,700.