A roundup of Capitol and state government news items of interest for Monday, July 1, 2019:
IOWA ECONOMIC INDICATORS DIP: The Iowa Leading Indicators Index slipped two-tenths of 1 percent in May to a score of 107.1 — marking the second consecutive month of negative change after a flat March.
Seven of the eight index components followed by the Iowa Department of Revenue were negative in May, with gains in diesel fuel consumption being the only positive contributor.
The negative contributors — from largest to smallest — were the agricultural futures profits index, the new orders index, residential building permits, the national yield spread, average manufacturing hours, the Iowa stock market index and average weekly unemployment claims (inverted).
The annualized six-month index change moderated somewhat to minus 1.7 percent in May from a revised negative 1.9 percent in April, but remained close to the minus 2.0 percent threshold that signals a downturn, state officials noted.
With a slight increase in May, Iowa’s non-farm employment index has experienced 19 consecutive months of positive growth, although the last four months have averaged the slowest growth since 2017.
The monthly Iowa Leading Indicators Index report can be found at https://tax.iowa.gov/sites/files/idr/ILII%20May%202019.pdf.
JOBLESS/INJURY BENEFITS INCREASE: Iowa Workforce Development has announced an increase to maximum weekly benefits paid to unemployed Iowans and to workers injured on the job.
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The new benefit payment schedules apply to people who file new unemployment insurance claims on or after July 7 and to workers injured on or after July 1.
An increase in wages covered by unemployment insurance triggered the rise in benefits. The average annual wage for insured Iowa workers increased to $47,290.57 in 2018, up from $45,877.31 in 2017.
Under Iowa law, the number of people covered by unemployment insurance and their gross wages are primary elements of a formula Iowa Workforce Development uses each year to compute maximum and minimum benefit amounts paid to jobless workers. Iowa Workforce Development officials noted that about half of those eligible for unemployment insurance benefits have enough earnings to qualify for the maximum benefit.
The 2019 taxable wage base will be $31,600.
Beginning July 1, the workers’ compensation maximum weekly benefit for temporary total disability, healing period, permanent total disability and death will rise to $1,819.
For permanent partial disability, the weekly maximum will be $1,673.
Information about the weekly benefits will be available in the 2019 Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook at iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov beginning on Wednesday.