Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 2.9 Percent in August

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 2.9 Percent in August
September 15th, 2023 | Iowa Workforce Development

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent in August, tying the year-ago rate, while the U.S. unemployment rate increased from 3.5 percent to 3.8 percent in August.

Despite the rise in unemployment, Iowa gained 2,400 jobs and Iowa’s workforce grew by 500 people in August.

“Iowa employers appear to have acted cautiously last month amid ongoing worry about the national economy and rising inflation,” said Beth Townsend, Executive Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “However, we saw Iowa’s pool of available workers increase, meaning that more and more Iowans continue to show a strong desire to find new careers across the state.”

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 50,200 in August from 47,700 in July. The state’s overall labor force participation rate decreased slightly from 68.8 to 68.7 percent in August.

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,692,400 in August. This figure is 2,000 lower than July and 24,300 higher than one year ago. 

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa businesses, responding to a federal survey measuring jobs (a different survey from the one used to measure unemployment), reported adding 2,400 jobs in August, raising total nonfarm employment to 1,588,000. Private service industries were responsible for most of the growth, as goods-producing industries edged down (-200). The August gain halts job losses over the prior three months (-11,000). Private sectors combined advanced by 1,800 jobs while government added the remaining 600 jobs. This month’s gain leaves government up 4,500 jobs annually, while total nonfarm employment has advanced by 15,700 jobs versus one year ago.

Leisure and hospitality led all sectors in jobs gained in August (+2,600). The increase stemmed from accommodations and foods service industries; arts, entertainment and recreation saw little movement compared to last month.  Education and healthcare combined for an increase of 2,400 jobs. Most of these gains stemmed from health care and social assistance, which has gained 4,800 jobs so far in 2023. Smaller increases included manufacturing (+600) and information services (+400). Conversely, trade and transportation shed 2,200 jobs to lead all super sectors. Wholesale trade fueled most of the loss (-1,600), although there was some decline in retail (also -800). This sector has lost jobs in three of the last four months (-1,600). Professional and business services also trended down this month with 1,100 jobs shed. This loss marks the fifth-consecutive decline for this super sector, which has now shed 6,600 jobs during that span. Losses have been evident in both professional, scientific, and technical services along with administrative support and waste management firms.

Annually, education, health care, and social assistance has added the most jobs (+10,600) over the past twelve months. Almost two-thirds of the jobs stemmed from health care services. Leisure and hospitality gained 7,300 jobs with 5,200 being within accommodations and food services. While most sectors have advanced relative to last year, professional and business services continue to trail last year’s mark due mostly to sluggishness in administrative and support services and is now down 8,100 jobs.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
    Change from
Civilian labor force1,742,6001,742,1001,718,70050023,900
Unemployment rate2.9%2.7%2.9%0.20.0
Labor Force Participation Rate68.7%68.8%68.2%-0.10.5
U.S. unemployment rate3.8%3.5%3.7%0.30.1
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment1,588,0001,585,6001,572,3002,40015,700
Trade, transportation and utilities311,000313,200311,300-2,200-300
Financial activities107,200107,800108,200-600-1,000
Professional and business services 139,000140,100147,100-1,100-8,100
Education and health services238,700236,300228,1002,40010,600
Leisure and hospitality143,900141,300136,6002,6007,300
Other services56,00055,50055,900500100
(Above data subject to revision)     
Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
    % Change from
Initial claims8,4769,1735,529-7.6%53.3%
Continued claims     
     Benefit recipients11,31711,1389,5911.6%18.0%
     Weeks paid34,29631,09430,93010.3%10.9%
     Amount paid$15,950,144$13,949,999$13,314,21114.3%19.8%

Visit for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.


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