Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

August 23, 2012

Iowa JobWatch: Slow steps ahead for Iowa jobs


Daily Iowegian

IOWA CITY — The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project released this statement from Executive Director David Osterberg regarding the latest Iowa jobs numbers, reported today by Iowa Workforce Development:

“Local school employees returning to work led to an overall gain in Iowa nonfarm jobs in July, while declines in several sectors held down the overall increase and kept Iowa on a slow-growth pace for the year.

“Over the year, manufacturing is the bright spot for Iowa as other sectors are generally stagnant. Manufacturing jobs are up 10,400 from July to July, and traditionally that sector has better-paying jobs than most. Despite the largely seasonal one-month boost in local school jobs — government jobs rose by 5,200 in July, but remained down 2,700 from a year earlier.

“Longer-term look: The overall sluggishness noted above is reflected in a look at nonfarm jobs over the last two decades. Iowa's current monthly average for 2012 is on a pace to roughly match the performance of the middle of the last decade, just under a 2,000-job net gain per month. Those were not strong job years for Iowa, particularly compared with the 1990s, when monthly averages often were closer to or above 3,000. Still, 2012 is shaping up better than each of the last five years.”

Key Numbers

• Nonfarm jobs, after two months of declines, rose in July by 2,300 to 1,492,400, from a downwardly revised 1,490,100 in June. The July gains wiped out a 2,300 drop in June.

• Over the year, nonfarm jobs are up by 12,500, from 1,479,900 in July 2011.

• Nonfarm jobs are 36,000 behind the May 2008 peak of 1,528,400, and 32,800 behind the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.

• The unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in July, up from 5.1 percent in April, May and June, but down from 6 percent a year earlier.

• Initial unemployment claims were up in July — by 22 percent, to 14,108 — from June, and 3.3 percent higher than in July 2011. The number of continuing claims, however, is down 9 percent over the year, falling from 31,834 to 28,900.                                     

Key Trends

• Iowa averaged a monthly increase of 1,000 jobs over the last 12 months. The first seven months of the year have been slightly stronger, with jobs rising on average by 1,700 per month.

• Nonfarm jobs are above the year-ago level for the 22nd month in row, so for almost two years, Iowans have been looking at a more positive job picture than they saw a year earlier.

• Government jobs were up 5,200 for the month but down 2,700 for the year. Those July gains offset stagnant or declining sectors, which included construction, which dropped by 1,200 and professional and business services, down 800.

• Over the year, manufacturing is the biggest gainer, up 10,400 from July 2011.