Iowa jobless rate ticks up in November

Increase comes despite addition of 500 jobs statewide

While Iowa’s labor force participation rate held steady at 67.7% in November, the state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate increased to 3.1%, according to a monthly report issued Dec. 15 by Iowa Workforce Development.

The state added 500 net jobs in November, according to the IWD report.

The state reported an unemployment rate of 2.9% in October.

The U.S. labor force participation rate fell to 62.1% in November, while the national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7%.

Despite surveyed employers reporting that they added jobs, the number of jobless Iowans rose to 52,400 in November from 49,700 in October, but remains 12,700 lower than one year ago, Iowa Workforce reported.

The total number of working Iowans decreased by 3,400 in November to 1,659,000, but remains 48,300 higher than one year ago, the Iowa Workforce Development report shows.

“Historical trends during the holiday season and throughout the winter months tend to show a rise in unemployment. On balance, Iowa employers kept hiring in November despite indications about the potential for future downturns,” IWD director Beth Townsend said in a release. “As companies continue to navigate the ripples from record inflation and supply chain issues, Iowa still has almost 79,000 open jobs. That far exceeds the number of unemployed in Iowa, and IWD will remain laser-focused on helping make connections between the unemployed and employers.”

With 500 new jobs added in November, Iowa’s total nonfarm employment grew to 1,586,100 jobs. November marks the eighth consecutive increase in jobs added in Iowa, and the state has now added 23,700 jobs since the last loss in March, according to the IWD report.

Private sectors combined to shed 200 jobs in November, with hiring in leisure and hospitality and construction being offset by job losses in trade and professional services. Government saw some hiring at the state and local levels, adding 700 jobs in November. Government now is up 4,300 jobs versus last year, while total nonfarm employment combined has added 42,800 jobs annually.

Leisure and hospitality gained 2,000 jobs in November to lead all sectors, addording to the Iowa jobless report. Gains were evenly split between arts, entertainment, and recreation, along with accommodations and food services. Construction added 1,000 jobs in November as firms worked later into the fall to wrap up projects this year. Despite the hiring this month, this sector has shown little trend over the past 12 months.

Other gains were minor and included other services (+400) and information (+200). Job losses in November were visible across many sectors, led by trade, transportation, and utilities, which experienced layoffs in retail trade (-1,100). Part of this loss can be attributed to gas stations and convenience stores lowering staffing levels in November, according to the IWD report. Professional and business services also trended down this month (-1,000), with administrative support and waste management fueling much of the drop. Smaller November losses included finance and insurance (-800) and education, health care and social assistance (-700).

Compared to last November, leisure and hospitality and manufacturing are tied for the most jobs gained (+13,700). Accommodations and food services have added much of the employment for leisure and hospitality industries, although arts, entertainment, and recreation has advanced by 20.8% during the last 12 months. Manufacturing has been resilient and steadily advanced over the year with hiring in durable goods shops alone gaining 9,000 jobs. However, November’s slight decline of 300 jobs halts 11 consecutive months of job gains stretching back to the labor dispute in 2021.