Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Drops Slightly to 3.6 Percent in November

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in November, a slight drop from the October revised rate of 3.7 percent. The state’s jobless rate was 2.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in November.

“November’s rate remained steady as Iowa’s workforce adjusts to the seasonal shifts we typically see this time of year,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. “While the state’s workforce continues its recovery to pre-pandemic levels, we know there are many Iowans still looking for new employment opportunities. I strongly encourage these job seekers to search over 68,000 job postings on and the IowaWORKS mobile application.”

The number of unemployed Iowans declined to 57,900 in November – down from 59,900 in October.  The current estimate is 130,100 lower than the Covid-19 peak in April of 188,000 and only 8,500 higher than the year ago level of 49,400. The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,561,600 in November. This figure is 14,100 lower than October’s number of 1,575,700 and 37,000 higher than April 2020.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa total nonfarm employment decreased in November for the first time since April. The drop of 10,100 jobs leaves total nonfarm employment at 1,503,600 jobs. This loss follows an increase of 11,500 jobs in October and 10,000 in September. Virtually all sectors pared jobs this month, opposite of what employers did last month. Private service industries were responsible for most of the loss (-7,000) and were hampered by declines in trade and recreational industries. Government also shed jobs this month (-1,000) with some of this decrease being the reduction of temporary census workers at the federal level (-500).

Trade, transportation, and utilities shed 2,100 jobs in November to lead all super sectors. Wholesale and retail combined for most of the loss this month (-1,800). Even with the drop, retail remains a bright spot in the economy as firms have adapted to changes in consumer spending and is one of the few sectors nearly even with pre-pandemic levels. The financial services sector shed 1,600 jobs with finance and insurance showing the most losses (-1,300). Like retail, this sector has otherwise been resilient during the pandemic. Arts, entertainment, and recreation lost 1,300 jobs in November. This sector had shown some recovery over the prior months and this month’s decline is the first since April when quarantine efforts began. Nondurable goods manufacturing decreased by 1,200 jobs. Some of these losses stemmed from food and beverage manufacturing. This was also the first decline since April for the sector.

Since April, 108,100 jobs have been added back to Iowa’s payrolls. Leisure and hospitality has added the most jobs due mostly to accommodations and food services reopening (+46,500). Retail trade has recovered 17,500 jobs and manufacturing has added 9,000 mostly within nondurable goods factories. Government has gained 13,100 jobs over the past seven months mostly within education.

Unemployment Insurance Claims

The total number of initial claims increased in November by 6,013 (30.6 percent) versus October and have now fallen 131,675 (-83.7 percent) versus the peak of 157,324 seven months ago. For continued claims, most statistics have been reduced to approximately 82 percent of the April levels. The number of claimants dropped by 21.4 percent from last month and are down 146,782 over the prior seven months. The weeks paid dropped to 111,741 in November, less than 20 percent of the 652,623 paid in April, while the total amount paid to claimants fell to $38.7 million, less than 20 percent of the $213.5 million paid seven months ago.

MEDIA ALERT:  Local data for November will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. Statewide data for December 2020 will be released on Tuesday, January 26, 2021.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
 Change from
Civilian labor force1,619,5001,712,6001,754,300-93,100-134,800
Unemployment rate3.6%11.0%2.8%-7.40.8
U.S. unemployment rate6.7%14.7%3.5%-8.03.2
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment1,503,6001,395,5001,586,000108,100-82,400
Trade, transportation and utilities302,900287,900309,50015,000-6,600
Financial activities107,700107,800108,800-100-1,100
Professional and business services131,100123,800138,9007,300-7,800
Education and health services225,100212,500235,20012,600-10,100
Leisure and hospitality117,90071,400145,50046,500-27,600
Other services53,80048,90059,7004,900-5,900
 (above data subject to revision)


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
% Change from
Initial claims25,649157,32417,463-83.7%46.9%
Continued claims
     Number of claimants35,877182,65919,433-80.4%84.6%
     Weeks paid111,741652,62353,681-82.9%108.2%
     Amount paid$38,714,617$213,451,863$21,599,834-81.9%79.2%
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