Nov 18

Iowa’s unemployment rate decreases to 4.1 percent in October

unemploymentDES MOINES – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased slightly to 4.1 percent in October. The state’s jobless rate was 3.5 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate was little changed at 4.9 percent in October.

“Iowa experienced a slight drop in the unemployment rate in October, despite some layoffs within construction and manufacturing establishments that could indicate this is only a temporary reprieve. Fortunately, Iowa continues to have jobs available and those affected by layoffs appear to be able to find jobs elsewhere,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa remains well below the national average of 4.9% which indicates our economy remains stronger than much of the rest of the country.”

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 70,300 in October from 72,600 in September. The current estimate is 10,100 higher than the year ago level of 60,200.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,655,200 in October. This figure was 5,000 higher than September and 12,700 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa businesses shed 4,500 jobs in October and total employment now rests at 1,583,900 jobs. This is the second loss in the last two months and largely due to declines in manufacturing and construction. Service sectors were down 700 jobs due to sluggish seasonal hiring in local government education. Government combined is down just 500 jobs versus last year’s level. Despite the monthly drop, over half of the state’s sectors added jobs this month.

Employment in education services had the largest drop this month (-2,400). The low showing in education is partially due to the shift in seasonal hiring and may level off as the school year progresses. The education sector remains up 900 jobs annually. The construction sector pared jobs again this month (-2,200) as the summer project season begins to wind down. This past year was nonetheless rewarding for construction workers evidenced by the annual job growth versus last year (+13.2 percent). Manufacturing lost jobs at the nondurable goods level (-1,300) and shed a combined 1,700 jobs this month. While durable goods has been showing recent signs of recovery, nondurable goods factories have shown some signs of weakness lately with jobs being shed in four of the last five months. The last monthly increase for nondurable goods was in May. Job gains this month were led by other services (+2,200). This month’s gain snaps a two month losing streak for this sector. Other advances in October occurred in leisure and hospitality (+1,200) and trade and transportation (+1,100).

The annual growth rate trended down this month with the state now up just 1.1 percent of last year’s mark (+18,000 jobs). The construction sector has retained the employment built up over the past year and thus leads all sectors in job growth (+10,400). Despite the monthly drop, the education and health services sector is up 4,900 jobs annually, followed by leisure and hospitality (+4,000) and financial activities (+3,500). Job losses continue to be led by manufacturing (-5,200) with both durable and nondurable goods factories paring employment now. Professional and business services also lags annually (-3,600) due mostly to cutbacks within administration, support, and waste management services (-3,200). The only other sector posting annual losses was information services (-1,200) which has steadily trended down over the last several years due to changes in consumer and business print and media preferences.

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