Businesses added jobs and more Iowans went back to work in the first month of this year. Kerry Koonce is a spokesperson for Iowa Workforce Development, which released the January unemployment report today.
“We’re down to 5.4% (unemployment) in January, which is down from 5.6% in December. We were at 6.1% (in January 2011),” Koonce says. The national unemployment rate in January hit 8.3%.
Newly revised figures for last year show Iowa’s statewide jobless rate averaged 5.9% in 2011. That places Iowa sixth in the nation for the lowest average unemployment rate. An estimated 90,400 Iowans were unemployed in January, down from 93,400 in December and 101,200 a year ago.
Koonce says nonfarm employment increased by 3,700 in January and has steadily added 9,200 jobs over the past year. “Manufacturing is where we’ve been seen our growth, especially over the last few months. We added 3,500 jobs this January in manufacturing,” Koonce says.
“We’re seeing it not only from businesses that had laid off and are bringing people back, but also in businesses that are expanding. And we’re seeing it in both durable and non-durable goods, which is very good because that shows all areas of manufacturing are growing.”
Manufacturing has added jobs in Iowa for 19 consecutive months. Leisure and hospitality ranked second in terms of job gains in January, up 3,200. “We’re also seeing hiring in the food service industry, which is a sign of what they’re saying nationally, that consumer spending is going up,” Koonce says.
Construction has added 3,100 jobs over the year. Education and health services shed the most jobs in January, down 2,500. The report states the loss was primarily fueled by a seasonal drop in education services, which is expected to rebound next month. Professional and business services trimmed 1,200 jobs in January and has declined in four of the last five months.
“But, most of that is in temporary hiring and that kind of goes along with increased permanent hiring. Businesses that had been using temporary workers are now stopping that process and moving to hiring more full-time workers again,” Koonce says. Losses were also posted in January in the trade and transportation sector and financial services, with both areas dropping 700 jobs.
Koonce says the January report is, for the most part, full of positive news for Iowa’s economy. “We continue to decline in the number of people who are filing new unemployment claims. That’s very positive and tells that less people are getting laid off across the state,” Koonce says.
There were 19,800 new unemployment claims filed in January, down from 31,400 filed in December. The unemployment report for the month of February will be released on March 30.