Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: October 19, 2023
Contact: Jesse Dougherty
Telephone: 515-725-5487

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Increases to 3.0 Percent in September

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked up to 3.0 percent in September, up from 2.9 percent last month but down from 3.1 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, Iowa’s labor force participation rate decreased slightly from 68.7 percent to 68.6 percent in September as college students left the workforce to return to school.

The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent in September, and the national labor force participation rate remained at 62.8 percent.

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 52,800 in September from 50,200 in August. The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,688,200 last month. This figure is 4,200 lower than August but 22,000 higher than one year ago. 

“National economic uncertainty continues to impact sectors like leisure and hospitality and professional and business services, but other industries are continuing to hire,” said Beth Townsend, Executive Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “If the warning signs turn out to be right, IWD will be well-positioned to match skilled workers with the employers who need them to grow. Through our Reemployment Case Management program, we have the right resources in the right place to help displaced workers find new careers as soon as possible.”

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa establishments shed 500 jobs in September, lowering total nonfarm employment to 1,585,200. Businesses in the state have been uneasy about hiring since April, and nonfarm employment has trended down, with job losses in four of the last five months. Jobs were gained in September mostly within goods production; however, gains were more than offset by private sector losses in leisure and hospitality along with professional and business services. Government also shed jobs in September at the local level (-200), yet remains up 2,600 compared to last year.

Among private industries, construction added 1,800 in September to lead all sectors. This gain was more than expected given that jobs had been pared in the prior four months. The monthly increase may be the result of construction firms rushing to wrap up projects before the colder weather arrives in the coming months. Jobs also were added in other services in September (+800). The largest movements were in religious, grantmaking, civic, and professional organizations. All other gains were smaller in nature – including manufacturing and information services, both of which added 200 jobs. Conversely, layoffs in arts, entertainment, and recreation fueled a drop of 1,100 in leisure and hospitality. Accommodations and food services increased slightly relative to August (+200). Professional and business services also shed jobs in September (-1,000). Administrative support and waste management industries pared 900 and was responsible for most of the loss. Financial activities posted the only other major loss this month (-800). Both credit intermediation and real estate rental and leasing shed 400 jobs.

Annually, Iowa has gained 11,400 jobs over the past 12 months. The largest increases have been in education and health care industries (+10,000). Most of the jobs gained were in health care and social assistance (+7,100). Despite the loss this month, leisure and hospitality is up 4,500 since last September thanks mostly to eating and drinking establishments bolstering payrolls. On the other hand, annual job losses were heaviest in professional and business services (-8,200). Losses for this sector have been driven by declines in employment services for individuals and business services for firms.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
        Change from
  September August September August September
  2023 2023 2022 2023 2022
Civilian labor force 1,741,000 1,742,600 1,718,900 -1,600 22,100
Unemployment 52,800 50,200 52,600 2,600 200
Unemployment rate 3.0% 2.9% 3.1% 0.1 -0.1
Employment 1,688,200 1,692,400 1,666,200 -4,200 22,000
Labor Force Participation Rate 68.6% 68.7% 68.1% -0.1 0.5
U.S. unemployment rate 3.8% 3.8% 3.7% 0.0 0.1
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,585,200 1,585,700 1,573,800 -500 11,400
Mining 2,300 2,300 2,200 0 100
Construction 82,800 81,000 81,000 1,800 1,800
Manufacturing 227,100 226,900 225,100 200 2,000
Trade, transportation and utilities 310,800 311,100 312,700 -300 -1,900
Information 20,000 19,800 19,000 200 1,000
Financial activities 106,200 107,000 108,100 -800 -1,900
Professional and business services 138,500 139,500 146,700 -1,000 -8,200
Education and health services 238,100 238,200 228,100 -100 10,000
Leisure and hospitality 141,500 142,600 137,000 -1,100 4,500
Other services 57,100 56,300 55,700 800 1,400
Government 260,800 261,000 258,200 -200 2,600
(Above data subject to revision)          
Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
        % Change from
  September August September August September
  2023 2023 2022 2023 2022
Initial claims 7,344 8,476 5,547 -13.4% 32.4%
Continued claims          
     Benefit recipients 9,089 11,317 7,088 -19.7% 28.2%
     Weeks paid 24,531 34,296 20,792 -28.5% 18.0%
     Amount paid $12,091,915 $15,950,144 $9,615,944 -24.2% 25.7%


MEDIA ALERT:  Local data for September 2023 will be posted to the IWD website on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. Statewide data for October 2023 will be released on Thursday, November 16, 2023.