The state unemployment numbers for December released today showed a slight dip. Unemployment was four-point-seven percent in the final month of 2004 — down from four-point-eight percent in November. Iowa Workforce Development analyst Ann Wagner says an improving economy has actually kept the unemployment rate from making big drops.She says unemployment remains at a high level because the economy improved in the later part of 2004 and a lot of people who weren’t looking for work are coming back into the job market. Wagner says there are simply more new people looking for jobs now than new jobs being created. But, she says there are gains being made in jobs. She says in terms of total non-farm employment in December, we hit a level that’s the highest point of the year in December and the highest since December of 2001. Wagner talks about the areas of greatest improvement for jobs.She says the finance industry was the fastest growing followed by education, health and construction. Wagner says a review of the labor market in 2004 is positive. She says “We saw some definate improvement, finally. We expect the picture to strengthen in 2005.” The national unemployment rate in December was five-point-four percent.
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