While state officials say Iowa’s economy appears to be firmly in recovery mode, a liberal think-tank is raising questions about that conclusion. Peter Fisher, a University of Iowa professor who’s part of the Iowa Policy Project, says the so-called “jobless” recovery is what we’re seeing here. Fisher says while Iowa’s unemployment rate has fallen, there’s been a decline in the number of jobs in the state. He says the 17-hundred job loss in November more than wiped out the gains of the previous months. Fisher says it shows the “recovery is still sputtering” and two years after the end of the recession, there are few job gains. Ann Wagner of the Iowa Workforce Development agency says November’s unemployment rate in Iowa dipped to four-point-two percent and it’s the second-consecutive month in which the number of jobless Iowans declined. Wagner says there are pockets of high unemployment around the state.The unemployment rate in Tama County — where the Meskwaki Casino has been closed for months — stands at 14-point-four percent. Lee County in southeast Iowa and Clarke County both have jobless rates of seven-and-a-half percent. Overall, the manufacturing sector’s on the rebound, according to Wagner. Two-hundred jobs were added at Iowa manufacturers in the month of November. Wagner says there’s a “slowdown” in unemployment claims and there’s an upswing in hiring, so she thinks Iowa has “moved into a recovery phase.” However, Wagner doesn’t expect a big economic upswing until sometime next year.
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