Iowa’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in June, a 23-year high.
"It’s primarily due to continued layoffs across the state as well as our recent graduates from May and June entering the workforce," says Kerry Koonce, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Workforce Development agency. "This would be college graduates as well as high school graduates who have chosen not to go on to further education, so a lot of these individuals are looking for jobs and if they haven’t found them, then they’re part of the workforce and they’re part of the unemployed."
A year ago, Iowa’s unemployment rate was significantly lower, at 4.1 percent for June of 2008. Iowa’s current unemployment rate is still well below the national unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.
"Iowa is not at that kind of a level, so that’s good, but…we are still seeing declines in manufacturing and construction," Koonce says. "And we also witnessed a rather large decline in professional and business services this month which is primarily affected by the temp agencies."
State officials say just over 104,000 Iowans are classified as unemployed in June — the highest level reported since Februayr of 1986.
"Typically Iowa is fortunate to be one of the states that gets individuals off of unemployment quicker than a lot of other states. Unfortunately now we are seeing a lot of these individuals who are on (unemployment) longer," Koonce says. "Roughtly, right now for the last couple of months approximately 2000 people a week are exhausting all of their unemployment benefits."
That means they’ve collected unemployment benefits for the maximum of 46 weeks.
"A lot of these individuals are individuals (who have) typically never been unemployed," Koonce says. "They may have been let go from a manufacturing job that they’d held for 15 or 20 years, but it’s really just affecting everybody across the board."
Iowa manufacturers laid off 1800 workers in June. In the past 12 months, nearly 28,000 workers in Iowa manufacturing plants have been let go.