January jobless figures are out and show nonfarm employment figures for Iowa up — but only by a slim margin. Ann Wagner, a research analyst in Iowa’s Workforce agency,says seasonally-adjusted jobless unemployment rate was up to five-point-one-percent in January, from five-percent even the previous month before and from the four-point-six percent of January a year ago. Wagner says the jobless-rate increase is less than meets the eye. Most of the increase is actually due to a change in methodology that they employed starting with the month of January — a “new generation modeling approach” that makes the jobless figure appear higher by about three-tenths of a percent. As for the figures, they have their ups and downs: Nonfarm jobs decreased by 3600 in January, but they were up 10-thousand-600 from a year ago. January saw a decrease in job areas including construction and “trade and transportation.” Ever since the recession that began in 1991 she says that sector’s been troubled, and while manufacturing’s also been weak in Iowa, trade and transportation suffered from a number of business closings. Areas that gained workers in the first month of 2005 included manufacturing, finance and “professional and business services.” While the January report is later than normal, Wagner explains the delay came from a change in technology that’s part of a ten-year upgrade of methodology. Another report, the February job summary, will come out in another couple weeks. Wagner’s quick to respond when asked if there’s pressure from state or federal leaders to report “good” employment news. Wagner says she’s never been “under that kind of pressure,” saying she tries to be straightforward in her reports and “tell it like it is” whether the rate’s up or down.
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