Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Decreases to 2.9 Percent in February

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 2.9 percent in February, down from 3.0 percent in January and equal to the rate one year ago. Meanwhile, despite widespread job growth across multiple industries, Iowa’s labor force participation rate ticked down from 67.3 percent in January to 67.2 percent in February as a large concentration of young Iowans left work for education.

The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent in February.

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 50,200 in February from 51,100 in January, while the number of working Iowans fell to 1,650,700 in February. The employed figure is 3,000 lower than January and 13,200 lower than one year ago.

“February was warmer than normal, and the impact of that showed up in Iowa’s economy,” said Beth Townsend, Executive Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa businesses added jobs in nearly every major industry last month, from construction and manufacturing to health care and accommodation and food services. At the same time, we also saw a slight decline in the overall workforce, with most who left saying they were doing so to attend classes. Opportunity abounds for anyone who wants to work. IowaWORKS currently has more than 60,000 open job postings, and IowaWORKS career advisors will be happy to help you get started.”

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa establishments added 11,000 jobs in February, raising total nonfarm employment to 1,607,200 jobs. This month’s gain is large historically and more than offsets a loss of 2,600 in January. February’s advancement was propelled by hiring in private services, particularly within recreation and entertainment fields, education and health care, and professional and business services. Total nonfarm employment has gained 19,500 jobs over the year.

Accommodations and food services added the most jobs in February (+4,400). This increase more than offsets losses in each of the prior two months. Jobs gained stemmed from eating and drinking establishments, especially within limited-service restaurants along with snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars. Education and health care also added jobs in February (+2,400). Hiring was nearly even between both private education (+1,300) and health care and social assistance (+1,100). For education services, the monthly gain is representative of larger-than-expected staffing levels to begin the school year at private education institutions. For health care and social assistance, the February increase has been more of a steady upward trend following social distancing measures related to Covid in 2020. Other services also added jobs (+1,600). Much of these hires were concentrated within religious, professional, and other civic and grantmaking organizations. Administrative support and waste management added 1,100 and boosted professional, scientific, and technical services by 1,600 jobs.  On the flip side, information services shed the most jobs in February (-400) and now trails last year’s mark by 800 jobs.

Following the ample February gain, total nonfarm employment now rests up 19,500 jobs over the past twelve months. Education and health care has added the most jobs (+7,700). The bulk of the hiring in this super sector was rooted in health care and social assistance, up 5,800 since last February. Accommodations and food services benefitted from unexpected hiring this month and fueled a gain of 5,500 in leisure and hospitality industries. Construction benefited from gains stretching back to October and has added 3,800 jobs. As far as losses go, both retail trade and transportation and warehousing have been dealing with recent cutbacks in staffing levels and were responsible for a loss of 6,400 in trade, transportation, and utilities.

Employment and Unemployment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Change from
February January February January February
2024 2024 2023 2024 2023
Civilian labor force 1,700,900 1,704,800 1,712,700 -3,900 -11,800
Unemployment 50,200 51,100 48,900 -900 1,300
Unemployment rate 2.9% 3.0% 2.9% -0.1 0.0
Employment 1,650,700 1,653,700 1,663,900 -3,000 -13,200
Labor Force Participation Rate 67.2% 67.3% 68.0% -0.1 -0.8
U.S. unemployment rate 3.9% 3.7% 3.6% 0.2 0.3
Nonfarm Employment in Iowa, Seasonally Adjusted Data
Total Nonfarm Employment 1,607,200 1,596,200 1,587,700 11,000 19,500
Mining 2,200 2,200 2,300 0 -100
Construction 86,600 85,500 82,800 1,100 3,800
Manufacturing 228,900 228,500 226,300 400 2,600
Trade, transportation and utilities 306,400 306,500 312,800 -100 -6,400
Information 18,200 18,600 19,000 -400 -800
Financial activities 108,700 108,800 108,100 -100 600
Professional and business services 148,400 146,800 146,200 1,600 2,200
Education and health services 240,100 237,700 232,400 2,400 7,700
Leisure and hospitality 145,400 141,200 139,900 4,200 5,500
Other services 56,500 54,900 56,200 1,600 300
Government 265,800 265,500 261,700 300 4,100
(Above data subject to revision)


Unemployment Insurance Claims for Iowa
% Change from
February January February January February
2024 2024 2023 2024 2023
Initial claims 7,948 18,754 7,591 -57.6% 4.7%
Continued claims
     Benefit recipients 25,110 26,737 25,596 -6.1% -1.9%
     Weeks paid 87,760 97,851 87,595 -10.3% 0.2%
     Amount paid $46,568,363 $51,160,489 $43,681,231 -9.0% 6.6%


Visit 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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