The latest report from Iowa Workforce Development shows Iowa’s unemployment rate in February was 6.1 percent, unchanged from January. But, I.W.D. spokesperson Kerry Koonce says the state is adding jobs and more people who are unemployed are now looking for work.
“We’re seeing a lot of people who’ve been unemployed and very disenfranchised and not even looking for work starting to get back into that process. They are seeing job opportunities out there and they’re beginning to look, which is very positive,” Koonce said. “So, although (unemployment) numbers are staying consistent, we are growing the labor force.”
Iowa added 3,700 jobs in February compared to January. The manufacturing sector added 1,200 positions, while leisure and hospitality added 2,500 jobs. “That’s a strong indication that people are willing to spend some more of their discretionary money now. They’re feeling more comfortable with that, so that’s very good for our economy,” Koonce said.
Over the last year, construction has eliminated 1,100 jobs while the information sector has cut 1,200 positions. But, professional and businesses services has added nearly 6,000 positions over the year. Trade and transportation has 4,000 more jobs and leisure and hospitality added 2,800.
Manufacturing is up 2,400 jobs. The number of Iowans filing new unemployment claims is dropping as well. Koonce says her agency received about 9,000 fewer unemployment claims in February 2011 compared to February 2010. “So, that’s a positive sign…smaller numbers of individuals are losing jobs,” Koonce said.
According to today’s report, 102,200 Iowans were unemployed in February. The total number of working Iowans, meanwhile, grew to 1,578,000, the highest figure recorded since April 2009.