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Iowa unemployment rate edges up to 4.9 percent; lost 900 jobs in August

Charles City office of Iowa Workforce Development
Charles City office of Iowa Workforce Development

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up to 4.9 percent in August, as more Iowans continued to enter the labor force. The August rate was up from 4.8 percent in July, but down from the year ago rate of 5.3 percent. In contrast, the U.S. unemployment rate for August decreased to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent in July because fewer people were looking for work.”

“Encouraged by the upward trend in total employment for the year, more Iowans are entering the labor force,” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa’s labor force reached its highest level for the year in August at 1,655,300.”

Iowa’s pool of unemployed persons increased to 80,800 in August from 79,000 in July. The comparable estimate of unemployed for August 2012 was 87,000.

The total number of working Iowans grew to 1,574,400 in August, which was up from 1,573,300 in July. The current level is 27,000 higher than one year ago.

Total nonfarm employment in Iowa dropped by 900 jobs in August, lowering the monthly total to 1,532,500. This was only the second time this year that private employment failed to add jobs versus the previous month. The other drop occurred in March, when the private sector lost 4,500 jobs.

Job growth was limited in scope this month, with gains posted for three sectors: government (+3,700), education and health services (+500) and construction (+200). Within the government sector, seasonal job gains in public education accounted for most of the 3,300 increase in local government. Retail trade lost 1,600 jobs in August, pulling the trade and transportation sector down by 1,300. This job loss departs from a four-month streak of steady job gains for the sector. Professional and business services also experienced a loss this month (-1,200) with most of the drop stemming from reduced staffing levels in administrative and support services. Smaller declines for August included leisure and hospitality (-900) information services (-600), manufacturing (-500) and finance (-500). Despite these monthly losses, all of the sectors mentioned remain positive compared to one year ago.

Nonfarm employment increased by 19,800 jobs (+1.3 percent) from one year ago. Construction led all sectors in job growth (+4,500) due to the slight decline in manufacturing this month. Construction has also advanced by the greatest percentage since last year (+7.1 percent), providing further evidence of increasing demand for new projects. Manufacturing and professional and business services were each up 4,400 jobs, followed by education and health services (+2,800) and financial activities (+2,600). Government was down 2,200 jobs from a year ago primarily due to local government cutbacks at the administration level.

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