Welcome to the LinkedIn Workforce Spotlight.

This is a monthly report that examines the latest labor statistics and LinkedIn workforce data to surface new insights about the regions, industries and skills that are shaping and defining the U.S. labor market.

In this month’s Spotlight, we focus on the state of Iowa where the first votes of the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle are about to be cast. While Iowa's economy is often associated with agriculture and agribusiness, the "Hawkeye State" has a diversified and heterogeneous economy, with strength in both manufacturing and services.


Workforce migration is changing the political landscape of Iowa

Iowa is a “purple” or swing state. President Barack Obama won the state in both 2008 and 2012, but President George W. Bush won narrowly in 2004. However, recent interstate migration trends may be working slightly against the Democrats.

Based on the state-by-state results of the 2012 Presidential election, we gave each state a partisanship score between zero and 10, with lower scores indicating a Republican tilt and higher scores indicating a Democratic tilt (the most Republican state is Utah, at 2.5; the most Democratic state is the District of Columbia, at 9.3). By this scale, Iowa (5.30) is marginally more Democratic than the U.S. as a whole (5.20).

Iowa "The Hawkeye State"

Iowa "The Hawkeye State"

We used the same scoring methodology, based on the headcount composition of migration into the state, to calculate a partisanship score for the state’s in-migrants for the past year (we excluded migrants who came from outside of the country and we did not take into account whether the migrants were Democrats or Republicans). That score was 5.11, leaning Democratic, but less so than Iowa or the U.S. In other words, in-migrants in LinkedIn’s data are tilting the state toward the electoral center.

The same pattern is generally apparent for Iowa’s major metro areas. The partisanship scores for migrants into Des Moines (5.08), Davenport (5.12), and Cedar Rapids (5.11) are nearly identical to those of migrants into the state as a whole. However, Iowa City (5.27) bucked this trend slightly, leaning further to the left and barely differing from the 2012 Iowa electoral result. Iowa City’s uniqueness may reflect the presence of the University of Iowa attracting relatively left-leaning migrants.

This is only an examination of Iowa's in-migration patterns. However, over the past year, more members departed Iowa (12,500) than entered it (9,600). Assuming that the departing members are broadly representative (politically) of the state’s electorate, this net out-migration trend may have complemented the composition of in-migration in tilting Iowa toward the electoral center.


Science and technology sectors are leading Iowa's job growth

For the U.S. as a whole, job growth in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (PSTS) sector (as measured by the BLS) has significantly outpaced growth in overall nonfarm jobs over the past year (3.6% and 1.9% year-over-year through November 2015, respectively).

This sector (which includes jobs in technical engineering, veterinary medicine and finance) accounted for 11% of all jobs added over the past 12 months. Generally speaking, these are high-paying jobs — according to the BLS, the mean annual wage for this sector is $76,000, versus $47,000 for the U.S. economy as a whole.

However, the differential between this sector and overall job growth in Iowa dwarfs that seen in the U.S. as a whole. Over the past year, Iowan nonfarm payrolls grew by only 1.4% (slower than the 1.9% national pace) as measured by the BLS; however, jobs in the PSTS sector within Iowa grew by 4.2% — outpaced in this sector by only 11 other states.

According to LinkedIn’s data, 23.6% of all Iowa new hires (people who started a new job in the past 12 months) work in this sector, which is slightly higher than the U.S. average of 23.0%. Only a handful of U.S. states rank higher than Iowa with respect to their share of new hires finding work in this sector: New York (28.3%), Illinois (26.8%), Massachusetts (24.5%), Oregon (24.4%), Minnesota (24.3%), and Wisconsin (23.9%).


While Iowa leads the U.S. in workers with agriculture skills, new sectors and skill sets are emerging

We close this month’s Spotlight by looking at skills that are unusually prevalent in Iowa relative to the rest of the U.S.

Not surprisingly, farm and agriculture skills are the most dominant. Additionally, skills like “pet care and services” and “food production and safety” may be associated with a large agribusiness presence.

However, Iowa also has an abundance of certain financial skills like "financial planning" and "insurance," and technical skills, like "IBM mainframe and systems" and "data entry."

A "location quotient" is a measure of relative prevalence; in this case, it measures the prevalence of a skill within a given geographic area relative to its prevalence in the U.S. See Appendix for more.

A "location quotient" is a measure of relative prevalence; in this case, it measures the prevalence of a skill within a given geographic area relative to its prevalence in the U.S. 
See Appendix for more.

While Iowa's cities have workforces that are heavily skilled in farm and agriculture, each of the state's major cities are otherwise very different in their skill sets. Des Moines’ skill set resembles that of the state at large:

Davenport, however, is a manufacturing and logistics hub, and Cedar Rapids specializes in high-tech manufacturing skills (e.g., Rockwell Collins, a supplier of avionics and IT systems, is headquartered in Cedar Rapids):

And Iowa City is the most unique of the bunch; the presence of the University of Iowa is likely a magnet for professional, scientific and technical skills. Indeed, that presence may also partly explain the migration/political shifts and PSTS trending described earlier in the Regions section.


1) Because state level employment data is noisy, we smoothed the monthly BLS series in the Industries section with three-month moving averages and measured year-over-year changes in the latter.

2) “The Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector comprises establishments that specialize in performing professional, scientific, and technical activities for others. These activities require a high degree of expertise and training. The establishments in this sector specialize according to expertise and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: legal advice and representation; accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; architectural, engineering, and specialized design services; computer services; consulting services; research services; advertising services; photographic services; translation and interpretation services; veterinary services; and other professional, scientific, and technical services.” (BLS)

3) A location quotient is a measure of relative prevalence; in this case, it measures the prevalence of a skill within a given geographic area (the state of Iowa or a metro area in Iowa) relative to its prevalence in the U.S. as a whole. So for example, if you take a random LinkedIn member from Des Moines, they are almost 12 times as likely to have “farm and agriculture” as a skill than a random LinkedIn member from the U.S.