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Iowa unemployment rate drops to 4.2 percent

unemploymentDES MOINES – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in January from 4.3 percent in December. The state’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in January.

“Iowa’s economy began the new year on a positive note,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “The state’s unemployment rate decreased to 4.2 percent in January and nonfarm employment added 3,100 jobs. Several sectors are at or near all-time highs in employment including construction and financial services.”

Beginning with this release, monthly statewide labor force estimates will be produced using the changes introduced by the LAUS 2015 Redesign. The Redesign was created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to assist states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico with generating more current and reliable estimates. On March 20, 2015, local area data will be released using the 2010-based Metropolitan Statistical Area, Micropolitan Statistical Area and Combined Statistical Area delineations announced by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in February 2013.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa’s nonfarm employment added jobs 3,100 jobs in January, raising the total to 1,562,200. With few exceptions, 2014 was a prosperous year for nonfarm employment. Benchmarking revealed the nonfarm gains estimated last year were generally accurate, with the only monthly losses occurring in July and September, when 700 and 500 jobs were lost, respectively. This month’s increase marks the fourth-consecutive and was fueled primarily by the service sector. Government increased this month due to larger-than-expected hiring in education industries and is now up 4,900 jobs compared to last January.

Trade and transportation gained 2,200 jobs this month and was fueled by growth in both wholesale and retail sectors. This month’s increase follows an unexpected drop in December following weaker-than-expected retail hiring. Professional and business services also fared well this month (+1,800) being boosted once again by hiring in professional, scientific, and technical services. Conversely, administrative and support services has contracted in four of the last five months and could be evidence of firms hiring permanent staff to replace temporary or contract employment. Fueled by advances in accommodations and food services, leisure and hospitality trended up this month (+800). This monthly increase is the fifth-straight for this sector. Alternatively, losses this month were heaviest in education and health services (-1,300) due to a decrease in employment within private education institutions to begin the school year. Construction pared 900 jobs this month and other services shed 700.

Annually, nonfarm employment remains markedly up versus one year ago (+24,800). Construction leads all sectors in job gains (+6,500) despite a decline this month and is coming off an all-time high reached in December (77,500 jobs). Trade and transportation is up 5,600 jobs and professional and business services are up 4,200 jobs. Losses have been slight and limited to information (-600), other services (-200), and mining (-100).

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