Iowa’s unemployment rate increased slightly in September, but state officials say it’s not because of layoffs. Ann Wagner, an analyst in the Iowa Workforce Development agency, says although the number of Iowans getting unemployment checks went down in September, a household survey found a number of new job seekers in the labor market. In addition, Wagner says people who had been discouraged and had stopped looking for work have started to try to find a job again because of improving economic conditions. She says people are hearing that companies are hiring, including manufacturing and they’re more likely to come back into the workplace.But this jobs report is being analyzed by the political campaigns since it’s the last report before the election, and the Kerry campaign is quick to point out Iowa did see a reduction in the number of jobs in September. Jason Furman, the Kerry campaign’s economic policy director, says Wagner’s explanation doesn’t jive with the numbers. “That one’s a little strange to me,” Furman says. Furman says his review of the report indicates the number Iowans in the labor force actually fell by 26-hundred in September. Furman says what’s happening in Iowa is happening nationwide. “There’s just no evidence that the (Bush) tax cuts are working” to stimulate the economy” according to Furman. Wagner — the state labor market analyst — says Iowa’s unemployment rate has been fairly stable for a while. September’s unemployment rate was four-point-seven percent, just two-tenths of a percent higher than it was in August and nearly identical to the rate in September of last year. Furman, the Kerry campaign economist, says that’s not exactly good news since the unemployment rate in Iowa was three percent at the beginning of 2001. Furman says Iowa saw a lot of job losses in the first couple of years of the Bush Administration, and the state labor market has been “treading water” with an unemployment rate of about four-and-a-half percent, which Furman says is too high. But Dan Ronayne, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, says Iowa’s economy is better off because of the Bush tax cuts. “The unemployment rate in Iowa is less than the national average,” Ronayne says. He says Bush’s push to lower taxes and reduce regulations will help every worker who wants a job find a job.Ronayne says John Kerry would raise taxes and increase government regulations. “John Kerry’s plans won’t do anything to create a job for an Iowan.” And Ronayne rejects the Kerry camp’s suggestion the economy hasn’t recovered. Ronayne says nationally, there have been job gains in each of the last 13 months, and nearly two million jobs have been created during that period. “The President’s policies are working,” Ronayne says.
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