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Impact of COVID-19 on cities, county


Thousands of Iowa workers have been laid off or furloughed from jobs since mid-March because of the emergence of the novel coronavirus.

While much attention has been paid to workers at restaurants, retail stores and manufacturing plants, some people who work for local governments also have experienced layoffs and furloughs.

Libraries, playgrounds, community centers and indoor swimming pools have been closed in an effort to keep large groups from congregating. 

The closures prompted cities to furlough some part-time and seasonal workers. As the state begins to reopen, many of the workers will likely be recalled.

The following is a look at some public entities that furloughed workers:

Polk County

Workforce before mid-March: About 1,337 workers

Furloughed workers: Up to 89 workers have had their hours reduced in the offices of public health, public works, recorder and treasurer. In the conservation department, 60 part-time and seasonal workers were furloughed, saving about $14,400 per pay period. A spokeswoman said the workers are expected to be recalled.

Des Moines

Workforce before mid-March: About 1,800 workers

Furloughed employees: 160 employees, split evenly between full- and part-time. All of Des Moines’ libraries are closed, prompting the city to furlough 76 full-time staffers. Most workers are expected to be recalled.


Workforce before mid-March: 261 full-time, 42 part-time, 35 on-call firefighters and 400 seasonal workers 

Furloughed workers: 54 seasonal and part-time workers from the Parks and Recreation Department and libraries. Some workers have been recalled with the opening of Otter Creek Golf Course. The library is offering curbside service. 


Workforce before mid-March: 76 full-time, 37 part-time and 200 seasonal workers

Furloughed workers: Two seasonal workers in the city’s brush facility. The workers will be recalled when the city reopens the facility.


Workforce before mid-March: Budgeted for 230 full-time workers, 102 permanent part-time workers and 30 seasonal workers

Furloughed workers: 19 school crossing guards and substitute guards; 21 part-time library assistants; 29 assistant pool managers, lifeguards, instructors and cashiers at the city’s indoor pool. All but the crossing guards will be recalled when reopenings occur. City and school officials decided to hire a private firm to supply crossing guards.

West Des Moines

Workforce before mid-March: 463 full-time and 41 part-time workers

Budget impact: The City Council authorized hiring eight new full-time workers beginning July 1. Six of the hires have been delayed until January, saving the city about $250,000.

Furloughed workers: 39 of 44 seasonal positions in the Parks and Recreation Department. Most are scorekeepers, building attendants and aquatics workers.

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