December 21, 2014

State unemployment rate holds at 4.9% in December

Iowa’s unemployment rate held steady in December after dropping below the 5-percent level to 4.9-percent for the first time in four years in November. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, says the numbers show a continued slow growth in the economy.

“We view no change as good news. You know, four-point-nine (percent) keeps Iowa as the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the nation. The national rate remained at seven-point-eight, so it’s fairly typical,” according to Koonce.

“December numbers tend to remain steady or even go up a little bit just because of the temporary layoffs you often have around the holidays and things like that.” Koonce says the state added just 300 jobs in December.

She says construction jobs were up due in part to the mild winter, while manufacturing lost some jobs, as did the transportation, trade, utilities sectors. Koonce says retail trade industry lost jobs as businesses started laying off quicker than usual, and local governments experienced some decreases.

We’ve turned the page on the calendar to a new year, but Koonce says it may take a month or two before there’s an impact from new year budgets. “Usually more February and March, January can sometimes still hold steady as they are getting their budgets and they are laying out their plans, but they don’t often start some of their hiring until February and March,” Koonce explains.

“And of course one of the big questions had been the fiscal cliff for a lot of the businesses. And now that they kind of know where they stand for at least a little while on that, they can begin laying out some of those plans.” Koonce says the employment picture as we start 2013 is looking a lot better than one year ago.

“Our jobs from a year ago were up over 14,000 jobs from this time a year ago. As far as people unemployed, we have just over 13,000 less unemployed Iowans than we did this time last year,” Koonce says.

The number of unemployed Iowans in December was down by 200 compared to November’s 80,200.