Polk County Labor Market Review

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Polk County has a labor force of approximately 281,000 with 265,000 employed as of June 2016. The labor force reversed the 2014 – 2015 trend by growing 0.22% between June 2015 and June 2016 while employment grew by 0.93%. During this period the unemployment rate fell from 6.4% to 5.8%. Although labor force participation fell slightly, the decrease was outpaced by increases in employment. While Polk County lagged the state and nation in labor force growth and employment growth, we continue to see gains in overall unemployment. We should expect that the nation and state will level off around 5% unemployment as this is typically considered full-employment. Once we catch up with the larger geographies, the lack of excess labor supply should put upward pressure on wages and encourage previously discouraged workers back into the labor force. While we are well past the bottom of the recession, we still suffer from some lingering effects, including a labor force that has not kept pace with population growth.