Iowa Workforce Development Communications
For Immediate Release
Date: March 11, 2024
Contact: Jesse Dougherty
Telephone: 515-725-5487

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Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 3.0 Percent in January

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.0 percent in January, down from the 3.2 percent announced in December but unchanged from a revised December rate. The state’s jobless rate was 2.9 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in January.

The total number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 50,900 in January, down 1,100 from revised December data. The total number of working Iowans decreased by 1,200 to 1,653,800. The labor force participation rate decreased to 67.3 percent from a revised December rate of 67.5 percent.

”January’s report was mixed. On the positive side it shows the total number of nonfarm jobs remains 12,700 above last year’s total, even after retail businesses pared 2,000 jobs following the holidays,” said Beth Townsend, Executive Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “We also saw 2,300 people leave the workforce voluntarily in January. Given we have over 58,000 job openings currently in Iowa, it is important we retain the Iowans in the workforce and recruit those who have dropped out. We help Iowans find great career opportunities every day, and we encourage those who have been out of the workforce for a period of time to get in touch. We can help you find your next great career.” 

The last five years of monthly labor force data (2019-2023) recently were revised as required by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. This “benchmarking” is the periodic process of re-estimating statistics as more complete data becomes available, such as updated data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Prior-year estimates for the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) programs – key statistical measures of employment – are benchmarked annually. Revised data are incorporated in January employment statistics when they are released each March.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa's establishments shed 2,000 jobs to begin 2024, lowering total nonfarm employment to 1,596,800 jobs. This monthly decline was due to private service industries removing jobs in wholesale and retail trade along with professional and business services. These losses overshadowed small gains in goods production. Whereas private industries lost positions in January, government (as sector that includes workers at hospitals and schools as well as federal, state, and local government agencies) increased adding 300 jobs, mostly at state universities. 

Construction added 600 jobs in January and has now reached an all-time high despite unusually snowy weather to start the new year. A combined 3,200 jobs have been gained in this industry since October. Leisure and hospitality advanced slightly (+500) and was partially lifted by small gains in both accommodations and food services. Other gains in January were light and included health care and social assistance (+800) and information (+300). Alternatively, trade and transportation shed a combined 3,200 jobs to lead all other sectors. Retail trade was responsible for most of the layoffs in January (-2,000) although both wholesale trade and transportation and warehousing also trended down. The only other major losses occurred in other services (-600) and professional, scientific, and technical services (-600).

Over the past twelve months, the state has gained 12,700 jobs. Among private services, education and health care has added the most jobs (+6,400).  Over half of the hires were related to health care and social assistance. Construction is now up 2,700 jobs annually, while manufacturing continues to trend up and has gained 2,100 jobs since last January. On the other hand, trade, transportation, and utilities shed the most jobs annually (-5,400) as transportation and warehousing fueled most of the decline (-3,600).

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
    Change from
Civilian labor force1,704,7001,707,0001,711,900-2,300-7,200
Unemployment rate3.0%3.0%2.9%0.00.1
Labor Force Participation Rate67.3%67.5%68.0%-0.2-0.7
U.S. unemployment rate3.7%3.7%3.4%0.00.3
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment1,596,8001,598,8001,584,100-2,00012,700
Trade, transportation and utilities307,200310,400312,600-3,200-5,400
Financial activities108,700108,600108,100100600
Professional and business services146,700147,200146,300-500400
Education and health services237,000236,600230,6004006,400
Leisure and hospitality142,100141,600139,6005002,500
Other services54,70055,30056,000-600-1,300
Above data subject to revision     
Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
    % Change from
Initial claims18,75422,70910,105-17.4%85.6%
Continued claims     
Benefit recipients26,73713,42526,48199.2%1.0%
Weeks paid97,85139,18186,339149.7%13.3%
Amount paid$51,160,489$19,749,006$42,093,040159.1%21.5%

Visit Labor Market Information 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 January 2024 is available on the IWD website. Statewide data for February 2024 will be released on Thursday, March 21, 2024.