Figures released today by Iowa Workforce Development show the number of people looking for work decreased again in March. I.W.D. Spokesperson Kerry Koonce says the unemployment rate started to drop back in October and March continued a downward trend that’s happened for every month this year.
“We saw another tenth of a percent drop, taking Iowa down to 5.2%, which makes us 3% lower than the national rate, which puts Iowa at the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country for March,” Koonce says. The rate was 5.3% in February. The state’s jobless rate was at 5.9% one year ago.
“This is definitely a trend downward in our unemployment rate, and that’s very good. We expect to see it keep trending down through the summer,” Koonce says. “Nationally they’re projecting moderate growth across the country for 2012, so we’re continuing to watch that.” The number of unemployed Iowans edged down to 87,000 in March from 88,200 in February.
Koonce says, “We have had nice strong growth in manufacturing over the last several months, which was the area that got hit the hardest during the recession. We are also seeing a continued decrease in people filing their first-time unemployment claims, so that tells us the layoffs and those kinds of things have slowed down. So, those are all positive things as well.”
Manufacturing gained 2,400 jobs in March, while the construction industry added 1,300. “With the weather we’ve had, the construction season has been able to get going sooner, adding jobs back into the economy,” Koonce explains.
The job gains help offset the loss of 2,500 jobs in the trade and transportation industries. The leisure, hospitality and government sector lost 1,300 jobs.
“The government losses were particularly at the local, like the city level as well as the community college system,” Koonce says. She says the community colleges were reducing staff going into the summer, while a lot of the city loses came as local governments deal with their budgets.
The total number of working Iowans was 1,575,800 in March, or 7,700 more than one year ago.
See the complete jobs reporte here.