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Iowa Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.2 Percent

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in March from 5.3 percent in February. The state’s jobless rate was reported at 5.9 percent one year ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate for March edged down to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent in February.

“The state’s economic recovery has gained traction over the past seven months” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “A stronger hiring pattern has caused Iowa’s unemployment rate to fall from 5.9 percent in September 2011 to 5.2 percent in March 2012.”

The number of unemployed Iowans edged down to 87,000 in March from 88,200 in February. The current month’s estimate is 12,200 lower than the year ago level of 99,200.

The total number of working Iowans was 1,575,800 in March, 7,700 higher than the year ago employment figure of 1,568,100.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa’s total nonfarm employment declined by 1,600 in March, bringing the level to 1,490,500. The slight decrease for March followed two strong monthly gains. The goods-producing sectors—construction and manufacturing—continued to post healthy job gains, while the service sectors displayed some weakness.

Manufacturing continued its run as the stalwart of job growth, adding 2,400 jobs in March. Durable goods factories accounted for the month’s gains, up 2,600, while nondurable goods declined by 200. Machinery contributed heavily to the gains reported for durable goods products. Construction advanced by 1,300, the third consecutive increase for the sector. Smaller gains were posted for financial activities (+400) and other services (+100). Alternatively, trade and transportation shed 2,500 jobs in March, the most of any super sector. Following the national trend, retail trade decreased by 1,900 jobs, and transportation and warehousing was down 1,200. Leisure and hospitality and government incurred job losses of 1,300 each.

Compared to March 2011, Iowa has added 13,300 nonfarm jobs. Manufacturing has led all sectors in over-the-year job growth, up 12,200. Construction appears to be rebounding with annual job growth of 5,500. Education and health and other services also added jobs, up 2,100 and 1,000 respectively. Government continued to work through its budget problems, losing 4,900 jobs since last March. Professional and business services also lost jobs over the year, down 2,200.

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