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A Chronological History of the Division of Labor Statistics (PDF)

A History of Iowa Workforce Development (PDF)

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Iowa Workforce Development
1000 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0209
Telephone: 515-281-5387

Iowa Workforce Development
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A Brief History of Iowa Workforce Development

1884 Bureau of Labor Statistics 1884The Iowa Bureau of Labor Statistics was created by the 20th Iowa General Assembly under the control of the Commissioner of Labor Statistics. Its purpose was to collect, assort, systematize and present a biennial report detailing a wide variety of issues.

E.R. Hutchins was appointed the first Labor Commissioner by Governor Buren R. Sherman on August 14, 1884.

1895 Iowa’s first experience in a free public job placement service abandoned as not one placement was made.
1896 Iowa legislature enacted Chapter 132 of the Iowa Code permanently establishing the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Iowa.
1906 Iowa enacted child labor laws to protect Iowa’s children.
1913 Iowa enacted the Iowa Workmen’s Compensation Act.
1914 Warren GarstWarren Garst (who served as Iowa’s governor from 1902 – 1908) was appointed by Governor George W. Clarke as Iowa’s first Industrial Commissioner.
1915 The 36th Iowa General Assembly created the State Free Employment Bureau as a part of the Iowa Bureau of Labor Statistics on July 1, 1915.
1917 Iowa entered into a cooperative agreement with the federal government to provide employment services in Iowa.
1923 The Iowa Bureau of Labor Statistics’ name was changed to the Iowa Bureau of Labor.

Elevator safety requirements were passed by the Iowa Legislature in 1923. The statute created a board to adopt a code of standards for elevator construction, installation, equipment, maintenance and operation. Cities could establish their own elevator codes, as long as they did not conflict with the state elevator code. Inspections were to be done by the cities and the labor commissioner’s inspectors.
1924 Iowa had three employment offices: one in the Polk County Courthouse; one in the Sioux City City Hall; and one in the Farm Bureau office in Creston.
1925 The Iowa Legislature gutted the recently passed elevator code. The board established to write regulations was abolished, as was the commissioner’s authority to inspect elevators. Responsibility was left with the various cities to enforce if and as they saw fit. Hoist way doors and gates were to be interlocked. A law reestablishing an elevator safety code and a state inspection and enforcement role was not reestablished until 1975.
1934 The Iowa Legislature greatly expanded the state’s employment service. Ten district offices were opened in Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City, and Waterloo.
1936 Annual Report of the Iowa Unemployment Insurance CommissionThe first Iowa Unemployment Compensation law was passed by a special session of the Iowa Legislature during the Christmas week of 1936 to enable Iowa employers to receive credit against a 2.7 percent federal tax on the first $3,000 of wages for contributions paid under Iowa law. The tax was retroactive to December 1, 1936. The Iowa Unemployment Compensation Commission was created and made responsible for unemployment insurance services.

The legislation provided for a single agency director, and Governor Clyde L. Herring appointed Garrett Roelofs, a college professor and former state senator from Orange City in northwest Iowa, to head the Iowa Unemployment Compensation Commission.
1937 On May 21, 1937, the already existing Iowa State Employment Service came under the umbrella of the newly established three-person commission. Iowans were well acquainted with the state employment service that placed workers in 93,443 jobs during the year.
1938 In July, unemployment insurance benefit claims began for the first time. The maximum weekly benefit amount was $15 and the base period was eight quarters.
1939 The Iowa Unemployment Compensation Commission moved to the Harger-Blish Building on 11th Street, south of Mulberry. Later, the Des Moines local office occupied the first two floors.

An estimate of all employed workers in Iowa was calculated as the federal government began funding collection of very limited labor market information on individual states. It was estimated 429,600 Iowans were employed.
1941 The name of the Iowa Unemployment Compensation Commission was changed to the Iowa Employment Security Commission. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Employment Service was federalized. After World War II, however, the Employment Service was returned to state control.

After decades of recommendations from labor commissioners, the 49th Iowa General Assembly authorized the Iowa Bureau of Labor to regulate and inspect boilers in 1941. Bureau of Labor inspectors were charged with inspecting internally and externally every steam boiler, tank, jacket, kettle, generator and other appurtenances used for generating or transmitting steam under pressure for heating or steaming purposes. Inspections were to be conducted at least once every 12 months.
1953 The Iowa Employment Security Commission was given the responsibility of administering the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) pension program that replaced the Iowa Old Age and Survivors Insurance program. When IPERS began in 1953, the maximum covered wage was $4,000.
1963 Iowa Employment Security Commission building The Iowa Employment Security Commission constructed a building at 1000 East Grand Avenue to house the agency’s administrative personnel.
1971 Iowa became one of approximately five states that had amusement ride safety laws. A few years prior a minor had been electrocuted at the Iowa State Fair. Although a ride was not responsible for the fatality, the legislature passed a statute giving the labor commissioner responsibility for adopting rules and conducting an inspection of each ride at least once annually.
1972 In 1972, the Iowa Legislature repealed the former safety law and the Employment Safety Commission and enacted the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Act (IOSH). The primary purpose of the statute was to assure every working man and woman in the state safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve human resources.
1975 An elevator safety law was enacted, in part as a response to a fatality in the early 1970. A child was killed in front of his mother when he fell from the elevator car down the hoist way in the Montgomery Wards store at 3rd and Locust in Des Moines.

Also in 1975, a state wage payment collection law was enacted by the legislature, Iowa Code chapter 91A. This came about in part because a daughter of a prominent Iowa politician was denied her last paycheck.
1976 Job Service of Iowa presentation to officialsThe legal name of the Iowa Employment Security Commission was changed to Job Service of Iowa. The agency was reorganized under a single director and the three-member commission was abolished. A three-member appeal board was created to hear appeals.
1984 Iowa became the sixth state to regulate asbestos removal with the passage of the Asbestos Removal and Encapsulation Act. It required workers to be trained and registered with the Bureau of Labor.

The Hazardous Chemicals Risks Right to Know Act was also passed, codified as chapter 455D of the Iowa Code, and was subsequently transferred in the Iowa Code to chapter 89B.
1986 The Iowa Industrial Commission, the Iowa Bureau of Labor, and the Job Service of Iowa were merged into the new Iowa Department of Employment Services. The Iowa Industrial Commission and the Iowa Bureau of Labor relocated their offices to 1000 East Grand Avenue building. The change was a result of major state government reorganization. Responsibility for the IPERS program was transferred to the Iowa Department of Personnel and the Iowa Commissioner of Athletics’ responsibilities to regulate professional boxing and wrestling was transferred to the labor commissioner. The annual report for fiscal year 1987 lists 68 local offices of which 11 were classified as district offices.
1988 Construction contractor registration began to address concerns of employers utilizing employees as “independent contractors.”
1990 January 1, 1990, Iowa’s first minimum wage law became effective with a wage rate of $3.85 per hour.

From June 24 - 29, Iowa hosted the annual convention of the International Association of Personnel in Employment. Event headquarters was the Marriot Hotel in downtown Des Moines. Approximately 1,500 people attended from the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, and Central and South America.
1991 The DES Data Center was initiated. It was a PC-based electronic bulletin board for customers to access labor market information and publications. Information was accessed via a modem 24 hours a day, seven day a week.
1995 The Department of Employment Services developed its first Web site on the Internet. It included job listings, addresses of all local offices, monthly updates on jobless benefits and other topics, as well as downloadable labor market information.
1996 Iowa Workforce Development was established by Iowa Code Chapter 84A. At that time, the Department of Employment Services and portions of the Departments of Economic Development and Human Rights were merged into a new department with the purpose of administering the laws of Iowa relating to unemployment compensation insurance, job placement and training, employment safety, labor standards, workers' compensation and others.