Iowa unemployment rate increases
DES MOINES — Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate inched up to 4.5 percent in March, primarily driven by another large increase in the state’s labor force.
The March jobless rate compared with 4.4 percent for February, and 4.8 percent for March one year ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate for March held steady at 6.7 percent.
“The Iowa economy reached a milestone in March, as the state’s total employment level climbed to a record high of 1,615,200, said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Total employment covers all working Iowans. It includes wage and salary workers on nonfarm payrolls as well as agricultural workers, the self-employed, and also workers in private households and unpaid family members.”
The statewide estimate of unemployed persons edged up to 76,000 in March from 74,200 in February. The number of unemployed stood at 79,300 one year ago.
The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,615,200 in March from 1,609,900 in February. The current figure is 27,100 higher than one year ago.
Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment
Nonfarm employment trended down slightly in March (-1,700), and now rests at 1,538,100 jobs. The loss is the second in the last three months, and was heavily influenced by declines in the goods-producing sectors coupled with weak hiring in professional and business services.
Government showed little change this month (-100), with gains in federal government offset by losses in state government.
Nonfarm employment has grown by 17,300 jobs over the year, although the pace of growth has started to slow in recent months.
Leisure and hospitality provided one of the few bright spots in March, posting an increase of 1,500, which was primarily concentrated in accommodations and food services (+1,000). Employment in this super sector has steadily trended up since 2010, and provides evidence of consumers’ increasing willingness to spend disposable income on entertainment.
Other gains this month included financial activities (+500), and information(+100).
Alternatively, losses this month were heaviest in Iowa’s manufacturing sector (-1,300), and included both durable (-900) and nondurable (-400) goods factories.
The drop is the third straight for manufacturing, and the fourth in the last five months.
Manufacturing remains up compared to last year (+800), but has shown little momentum so far this year.
Professional and business services shed 1,200 jobs, marking the first decline since October for the sector. Other losses this month were smaller in magnitude, and included education and health services (-400), other services (-400), construction (-200) and trade and transportation (-200).
The education and health services sector added the most jobs compared to last March (+4,000), with health care and social assistance providing most of the gains.
Leisure and hospitality advanced by 3,600 jobs, and trade and transportation gained 3,400.
Information was the only sector to pare jobs compared to last March (-800).
Statewide data for April will be released May 16, followed by local data on May 20.