Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: August 17, 2023
Contact: Jesse Dougherty
Telephone: 515-725-5487

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Iowa’s Labor Force Participation Rate Returns to Pre-Pandemic Level
Unemployment Rate Unchanged in July

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 2.7 percent in July but remains down from 2.8 percent one year ago. The state’s labor force added 2,700 new workers in July, increasing Iowa’s labor force participation rate to 68.8 percent. That is up from 68.2 percent a year ago and equals the participation rate in March 2020.

Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate decreased to 3.5 percent in July from 3.6 percent the month before. 

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,694,300 last month. The July figure is 1,300 higher than June and 22,900 higher than one year ago. The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 47,700 in July from 46,300 in June.

“Iowa’s labor force participation increased for the fifth straight month, although we do see signs that some businesses are being cautious with hiring amid prolonged national economic uncertainty,” said Beth Townsend, Executive Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Over 65,000 job opportunities still exist in our state, and Iowa Workforce Development stands ready to help connect Iowans to these great opportunities. We can also help employers who are looking for workers by connecting them with valuable tools and resources that will help them develop their talent pipelines.”

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa’s businesses are up 14,400 jobs relative to last year. In July, Iowa businesses shed 5,300 jobs, lowering total nonfarm employment to 1,585,400. Following a June downward revision, this loss is now the third consecutive monthly drop in payroll with monthly losses being evident in both service and goods producing industries. Professional and business services has pared jobs for four consecutive months and, along with leisure and hospitality, led all other sectors in jobs shed this month. Private industry employers are responsible for most of the increase (+11,700), although government entities advanced by 300 this month and now rest up 2,700 jobs over the past twelve months.

Accommodations and food services shed the most jobs in July (-2,000). Much of the loss was due to restaurants reigning in employment this month. The loss follows a smaller decline of 700 jobs in June. Arts and entertainment also shed jobs in July (-300), snapping a string of gains over the prior three months. Administrative support and waste management pared 1,200 jobs in July and fueled a decline of 2,000 jobs for professional and business services. Professional, scientific, and technical services shed 700 jobs this month and has shed 2,800 since March. Trade, transportation, and utilities lost 900 jobs and is now down 1,400 jobs over the past three months. Both transportation and warehousing along with retail have been a drag on employment recently. Conversely, job gains were small in magnitude in July and included education and health care (+400) and information (+200).

Compared to last year, total nonfarm employment has gained 14,400 jobs. Of those gains, education and health care has gained 10,100 jobs with a slight majority stemming from health care and social assistance. Leisure and hospitality industries are up 3,900 jobs and has been lifted by arts and entertainment (+2,500). Smaller increases occurred in manufacturing (+1,700) and construction (+1,300). Job losses have been heaviest in professional and business services (-6,400) with administrative support and waste management fueling much of the decline.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change From
  July June July June July
  2023 2023 2022 2023 2022
Civilian Labor Force 1,742,000 1,739,300 1,719,000 2,700 23,000
Unemployment 47,000 46,300 47,500 1,400 200
Unemployment Rate 2.7% 2.7% 2.8% 0.0 -0.1
Employment 1,694,300 1,693,000 1,671,400 1,300 22,900
Labor Force Participation Rate 68.8% 68.7% 68.2% 0.1 0.6
U.S. Unemployment Rate 3.5% 3.6% 3.5% -0.1 0.0
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data  
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,585,400 1,590,700 1,571,000 -5,300 14,400
Mining 2,300 2,300 2,200 0 100
Construction 82,200 82,400 80,900 -200 1,300
Manufacturing 226,800 227,400 225,100 -600 1,700
Trade, transportation and utilities 312,500 313,400 311,300 -900 1,200
Information 19,600 19,400 19,200 200 400
Financial activities 108,000 107,900 108,300 100 -300
Professional and business services 140,100 142,100 146,500 -2,000 -6,400
Education and health services 237,400 237,000 227,300 400 10,100
Leisure and hospitality 140,200 142,400 136,300 -2,200 3,900
Other Services 55,300 55,700 55,600 -400 -300
Government 261,000 260,700 258,300 300 2,700
(Above data subject to revision)          
Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change From
  July June July June July
  2023 2023 2022 2023 2022
Initial Claims 9,173 8,250 6,589 11.2% 39,2%
Continued Claims          
Benefit recipients 11,138 10,101 9,035 10.3% 23.3%
Weeks paid 31,094 31,490 27,641 -1.3% 12.5%
Amount paid $13,949,999 $14,062,226 $11,713,985 -0.8% 19.1%

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

MEDIA ALERT: Local data for July 2023 will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, August 22, 2023. Statewide data for August 2023 will be released on Friday, September 15, 2023.