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Iowa unemployment rate falls to lowest level in 32 months

Dave DeWitte, CR Gazette –

Iowa’s unemployment rate fell in January to 5.4 percent, its lowest level in 32 months, as manufacturers continued to bring back workers.

Manufacturers added 3,500 jobs in January, more than other sector. The leisure and hospitality sector added 3,200 jobs from the previous month.

“The Iowa economy is improving,” Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert said in a statement released Tuesday, March 13. She said the statewide unemployment rate began tracking rapidly downward in the final three months of last year.

The last time Iowa’s unemployment rate was below 5.4 percent was April 2009, when it stood at 5.3 percent.

The state also county and metro unemployment rates, which unlike the statewide rate are not adjusted for seasonal employment factors.

January often brings a drop in seasonal jobs in sectors such as retail and construction. Unemployment tracked upward from December in all five of the states metropolitan statistical areas and the vast majority of counties.

The unemployment rate in the Cedar Rapids MSA rose to 6.3 percent in January from December’s 6 percent, and th eunemployment rate in the Iowa City MSA rose to 4.4 percent from 4.2 percent in December.

Unemployment was slightly lower in the MSA cores of Cedar Rapids (6.1 percent) and Iowa City (3.5 percent).

The number of unemployed Iowans dropped by 3,000 from December’s level of 93,400. The number of working Iowans also increased by 3,000, Iowa Workforce Development reported, reaching 1,576,300.

State officials also released revised unemployment data for 2011. They showed Iowa with an average unemployment rate of 5.9 percent for all of 2011, sixth lowest in the nation.

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