DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to drop in February, falling to 5.3 percent from 5.4 percent in January. The comparable rate for February 2011 was 6.0 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent.
“The strong job gains of 8,700 reported for February reinforced the view that Iowa’s economy is turning the corner” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “February’s job gains were also broader in scope, occurring in most industry sectors.” The estimate of unemployed Iowans fell to 88,500 in February from 90,100 in January, and was 11,200 lower than the February 2011 level of 99,700. The total number of working Iowans dropped slightly to 1,575,900 in February from 1,576,300 in January. However, the current estimate of total employment is 7,500 higher than the year ago level of 1,568,400.
Education and health services added the most jobs in February, up 3,600. Education services accounted for 2,700 of the monthly gain, while health services advanced by 900. Leisure and hospitality increased by 2,100; the monthly gains were largely supported by hiring in accommodations and food services. Construction posted the third-largest gain for the month at 1,300. Employment in the construction sector has slowly rebounded since July 2011. The only sector to lose jobs in February was other services, which decreased by 500.
Compared to February 2011, Iowa has added 17,200 nonfarm jobs. Manufacturing led all sector in job gains, up 11,000. Durable goods manufacturers have added 6,400 jobs, while nondurable goods manufacturers have increased by 4,600. Construction grew by 4,300 jobs due to increased activity in the sector. Other substantial gains were reflected in education and health services (3,100), and trade and transportation (2,800). Three sectors posted losses since last year—government (-3,600), professional and business services (-1,800), and information (-800).