July 13, 2014

Unemployment rate moves lower for third straight month

The Iowa unemployment rate dropped for the third straight month in May. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, says May’s rate was 4.6%.

“This is down a tenth-of-a-percent from last month and then down significantly from our 5.3, which is what we were at last year,” Koonce says. She says the national unemployment rate went up to 7.6% from 7.5% in April. Koonce says the number of new jobs was more than expected.

“We added 5,300 jobs — which is great — and our civilian labor force size also grew too and the number of unemployed stayed roughly the same, that’s a big piece of it,” Koonce says. “We added jobs in construction and now they are within 4,100 of their all-time high. We also added a thousand jobs in the financial activities sector, which puts that industry at their all-time high — which is very good. Now they’re at 105,100.” Not all areas added jobs.

“Manufacturing did lose a little bit, 400 jobs. That’s the first time it’s lost any since September, so it’s just a small amount,” Koonce says. She says the leisure and hospitality category lost some jobs, which she says isn’t unusual and the category is still up 400 from last year.

Koonce says the non-farm employment increase was the largest so far this year and the unemployment rate continues to steadily move back down. “They used to say full employment in Iowa was about 3.5% unemployment rate. The number’s probably a little higher now since the labor market has changed some, so we are getting a little closer to that area,” Koonce says.

The statewide estimate of unemployed people fell to 76,800 in May from 77,600 in April and 87,200 last year in May.