Iowa’s jobless rate jumped in July, from 4.2 percent to 4.6 percent. Workforce labor analyst Ann Wagner says it fits into a historic pattern. The last time Iowa had an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent was October 1992 as a recessionary economy was trying to work itself into a recovery. Wagner says the unemployment rate has basically been flat for a long time and there are college students, laid-off workers and many others who’ve been struggling to find work for a long time now. She can’t say if this will be the last increase, but some slight improvement’s expected this year and there’s hope hiring will take off in 2004. Wagner says manufacturing is a key area that has a lot of influence on the jobless figures. For July, manufacturing saw 1500 workers laid off, making it 6900 for the year, a continuation of that sector’s weakness the last two and a half years. One sector that’s turned around is professional and business services, traditionally one of Iowa’s fastest-growing sectors though it slowed considerably during the recession. Professional and business services is a catch-all category including direct-mail workers, private investigators and many people in service jobs.
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