Iowa unemployment rate remains at 2.8% in May

A 'Help Wanted' sign is displayed at a gas station on June 23, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Nearly 650,000 retail workers gave notice in April, the biggest one-month worker exodus in the retail industry in more than 20 years, amid a strengthening job market. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Iowa’s unemployment rate has remained steady at 2.8% in May, according to data from Iowa Workforce Development, despite slightly lower workforce participation.

The state’s labor force participation rate fell slightly from 66.8% to 66.7% in the past month, despite the number of unemployed Iowans decreasing by 300 to 46,900 people in the same time period. In the past month, the number of working Iowans has decreased by 2,200, with 1,644,700 employed people in the state, according to the news release.

Over the past year, the state has seen a decrease in its overall civilian labor force — people over age 16 who are working or looking for work, with 22,200 fewer individuals in this category from May 2023. This decrease is likely spurred by multiple factors, including temporary layoffs, people moving or retiring from their jobs, IWD officials said.

While labor force participation has seen some decreases, there are more jobs available in Iowa: IWD reported Iowa employers have added 23,800 jobs in the past year. There are 6,900 more positions in Iowa education and health services in comparison to May 2023 — a majority in health care and social assistance jobs, according to the release. The fields of leisure and hospitality also saw an increase of 6,500 jobs, and government with 5,800 jobs. The largest decrease came in the trade, transportation and utilities category, with a loss of 1,700 jobs from the previous year.

Though there are more positions available, Beth Townsend, executive director of Iowa Workforce Development, said in a news release the state has recently seen a slowdown in hirings.

“After strong job growth earlier this year, Iowa saw moderate decreases in hiring across many industries, except health care,” Townsend said. “We also know that IWD’s Reemployment Case Management program has been very successful in helping unemployed Iowans find their next job in the shortest time possible.”

While Iowa’s unemployment rate stayed at 2.8% in May, the national unemployment rate rose to 4% this month, an increase from 3.9% April — and higher than 3.7% in May 2023. The U.S. labor force participation rate stayed relatively unchanged at 62.5%, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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