DES MOINES, IOWA (April 17, 2020) — Iowa’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate increased to 3.7 percent in March. The state’s jobless rate was 2.7 percent one year ago. The US unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent in March.

“The unemployment rate in March only reflects the very beginning of the impact of the substantial increase in unemployment claims we have seen since March 16; however, the more-reflective month will be April,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. “While there were more unemployed than March 2019, there were 1.67 million Iowans employed last month. The more Iowans who remain employed throughout should help reduce the economic impact and hopefully assist in a faster recovery period when the economy begins to reopen. There are dozens of employers looking for workers now and those who are temporarily unemployed are encouraged to check these out at: www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov

The number of unemployed Iowans jumped to 63,500 in March from 49,300 in February. The current estimate is 16,700 higher than the year ago level of 46,800.

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,665,300 in March. This figure was 38,100 less than February and 12,300 lower than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Total nonfarm employment in Iowa shed 3,500 jobs in March. While some decline in payrolls was anticipated this month, the majority of the loss associated with efforts to contain the Coronavirus will not be evident until April’s estimates. Private service industries continue to trend down in Iowa’s economy and have shed a combined 5,600 jobs over the past twelve months. Goods-producing sectors trail last year’s mark (-1,900) due to durable goods factories trimming staff over uncertainty. Government shed jobs in March (-400), yet remains up slightly versus last March (+400).

Accommodation and food services posted the biggest movement in March — a loss of 1,600 jobs. This was an early symptom of firms laying off staff early in response to the Coronavirus. This sector had fared well stretching back to last summer and is still up 800 jobs versus last year. Health-care pared jobs in March (-1,100) with many of the jobs lost being in social assistance and medical offices. Durable-goods manufacturing again trimmed jobs in March (-800). This drop is the fourth in the last five months, but the decline is partially offset by a gain of 400 jobs in nondurable goods shops. Retail trade shed 200 jobs, although staffing levels are expected to drop in April as many non-essential businesses furlough employees. Small gains this month included construction (+200), financial activities (+200), and professional and business services (+100), which saw hiring in administrative and support services being hindered by cutbacks in professional, scientific, and technical services.

Over the past twelve months, Iowa has lost 7,100 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities has shed 4,100 jobs with transportation and warehousing trimming the most jobs (-2,400). There is evidence that this sector should increase over the next few years thanks to new warehousing and distribution industries arriving in the state and increasing consumer reliance on delivered goods. Manufacturing is down 3,100 jobs with all of the loss being centered in durable goods shops. Annual growth has been highest in other services (+1,700) and construction (+1,400).

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

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