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Iowa unemployment rate at 4.3 percent

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 10:51 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES — Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January edged up to 4.3 percent from 4.2 percent in December.  The current rate compares favorably with the January 2013 rate of 5.0 percent.  The U.S. unemployment rate for January inched down to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in December.  This was the lowest national rate since October 2008.    

“Despite a slight increase in the January unemployment rate, Iowa’s unemployment conditions have improved substantially from one year ago,” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development.  “The state’s annual average unemployment rate for 2013 dropped to 4.6 percent from 5.2 percent in 2012.  Iowa had the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation in 2013.”   

The number of unemployed state residents increased slightly to 71,700 in January from 71,000 in December.  The current estimate is 11,800 below last year’s level of 83,500.           

The total number of working Iowans continued to trend upward in January, reaching 1,606,100.  This figure was 1,300 higher than December, and 21,600 higher than one year ago.   

Iowa nonfarm employment decreased by 7,300 jobs in January, lowering the total to 1,536,900.  The monthly drop was dominated by larger-than-expected service sector layoffs in trade and transportation, as seasonal workers were laid off.  In the goods-producing sector, construction also contributed to the loss.  Government was down 800 jobs in local and federal government, outweighing the gains in state government.  Nonfarm employment has steadily trended upward despite the recent weakness, and is currently 19,500 jobs higher than one year ago.