The recent dip in Iowa’s unemployment rate was primarily due to layoffs in government according to analysis by the Iowa Policy Project. The number of non-farm jobs in Iowa dropped by 4,200 in September and David Osterberg of the Iowa Policy Project says 3,900 of those were public sector jobs.
“Government jobs have been decreasing and, you know, it’s a sixth of the total employment in the state of Iowa,” Osterberg says. “When you lose government jobs, you’re losing good jobs.”
The state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in September, down from 5.5 percent in August.
“It’s always good when, every month, you have a few more jobs and that’s what we’ve been experiencing, but a thousand or 1,100 jobs per month gain — and that’s been the average over the last year — you need to have a lot more than that,” Osterberg says. “And we had a lot more than that back in the ’90s. The ’90s were the hot time for Iowa like every place else and we’re not there.”
However, Osterberg says the “long-term trend” in Iowa’s job market “remains positive” as there were 11,500 more jobs in Iowa this September compared to the same month a year ago. Iowa employment peaked in May of 2008, when more than one-and-a-half million people were employed in Iowa. Today, the total number of non-farm jobs in the state is about 39,000 below that.