Iowa’s unemployment rate drops to 2.7% in May

Iowa WorkForce Development

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped for the fifth consecutive month to 2.7% in May– down from 3% in April and from 4.5% one year ago.

According to a news release from Iowa Workforce Development, job growth was mirrored in the Labor Force Participation Rate, which grew to 67.6% in May, up from 67.4% last month and 67.1% a year ago. The U.S. May unemployment rate remained at 3.6%.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,657,200 in May– a figure that is 10,400 higher than April and 52,300 higher than one year ago.

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 46,800 in May from 50,900 in April.

“The May report is outstanding and welcome news!” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, in the release. “Every month that passes brings us closer to Iowa’s pre-pandemic employment level. But our real goal is higher. We want to continue to accelerate the recovery and get as many of Iowa’s 85,000 open jobs filled as quickly as we can.”

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa’s total nonfarm employment is up 34,900 for the year despite shedding 500 jobs between April and May, with total employment now standing at 1,565,000 jobs. Goods-producing sectors declined by 1,100 with job gains in manufacturing being overmatched by specialty trade losses in the construction sector. Private service industries were unchanged versus last month. Government advanced by 600 jobs due mostly to growth within education. This sector now is up 4,400 jobs versus last year, with most of the growth being in local government, according to the release.

Financial activities added the most jobs in May (+1,300). Most of the increase stemmed from insurance carriers and related activities. This is the first increase for financial activities since January. Manufacturing added 1,000 jobs due to hiring in nondurable goods shops. This is now the sixth consecutive gain for manufacturing stretching back to November 2021. Other services gained jobs in May (+600) and has now added jobs in three straight months. Leisure and hospitality increased slightly (+100) as arts and entertainment hiring overmatched declines in accommodations and food services.

Job losses in May were highest in construction (-2,100 jobs), the first loss for this sector after six straight months of job growth. Many of these losses were due to specialty trade construction projects paring jobs, possibly reflecting apprehension about launching new projects amid higher costs. Trade and transportation shed 900 jobs with much of the decrease stemming from retail trade (-800). Other sectors losing jobs in May included education and health care (-500) and professional and business services (-400).

Annually, leisure and hospitality has added the most jobs (+12,300). Most of these jobs have come from hiring in accommodations and food services (+9,300). Manufacturing establishments continued to grow their payrolls this month and are 8,100 jobs higher than last year’s mark. Retail trade has shown recent signs of cutbacks yet remains up 3,500 jobs. Annual job losses are sparse and limited to health care and social assistance (-1,600) and administration and support services (-1,400).