Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.8 Percent in February

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.8 percent in February. The state’s jobless rate was 2.7 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate decreased slightly to 3.5 percent in February.

“Because of the way the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data, we do not expect the COVID-19 numbers to have an impact on our unemployment rate until April.  The April unemployment rate will be released in mid-May.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics may change this but it is where we are now.  Therefore, the February and March rates are not indicative of where we are now as a result of the recent outbreak.  We continue to encourage employers to utilize as many employees as possible and use alternative methods to allow them to work during this challenging time,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development.

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 49,300 in February from 49,700 in January.  The current estimate is 3,000 higher than the year ago level of 46,300.

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,703,500 in February. This figure was 1,500 less than January and 28,600 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa businesses again reduced payrolls in February, losing 1,200 jobs versus last month. This February contraction is not related to the recent coronavirus, but simply a symptom of reduced activity within goods-producing sectors. Overall, construction and manufacturing combined to shed 1,200 jobs. Service industries were unchanged with private sector losses being exactly matched by slim government increases. Although there is evidence of the state’s economy tightening, government has been hiring more staff recently and is now up 2,600 jobs versus last year’s level; private industry trails by 4,000 jobs.

Construction shed the most jobs in February following some gains over the prior two months. Even with this monthly loss, this sector has gained 1,000 jobs over the past twelve months. Much of this gain has been evident in the Des Moines metro which is up almost 2,000 jobs annually. Trade, transportation, and utilities trended down this month fueled primarily by a loss in transportation and warehousing (-1,000). Although this sector hasn’t performed well recently, this industry should see improvement as the year progresses and consumers become more dependent on delivered goods. Professional and business services continued to pare jobs in February (-400). This super sector has steadily reduced payrolls the past two years with most of the losses stemming from administrative support and waste management. Alternatively, financial sectors hired in February (+500) following a gain of 900 jobs last month. Education and health care also added jobs (+400). Gains were evenly split between both sectors.

Compared to last February, Iowa has shed 1,400 jobs. Those sectors which have trended down the most are trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,900); professional and business services (-2,900); and manufacturing (-2,200) which is showing signs of scale-down within durable goods. Non-durable goods factories have been helped by job gains in food manufacturing. Those sectors performing well over the past twelve months are leisure and hospitality (+3,000) and other services (+2,100).

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