Iowa’s jobless rate was up slightly to 3.8 percent this past month — while at the same time unemployment payments were down and the number of people on the job rose according to the Workforce Development agency.
Workforce analyst Ann Wagner says in July we saw the secont straight increase in the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate. In June the rate also rose, to 3.6 percent. The current rate of 3.8 percent is still lower than July of 2005 when Iowa’s jobless rate was 4.1 percent.
Today’s rate represents about 64,500 unemployed people in the state. Wagner says the jobless rate hit a low earlier this year, but has started rising again for several reasons. According to Wagner one factor in July was a lot of temporary layoffs. Wagner says July’s also traditionally a month when a lot of Iowa’s manufacturers shut down for inventory, so the rise in the jobless rate “wasn’t too much of a surprise.”
She says part of the unemployment increase also may reflect people who lost jobs earlier but hadn’t been counted. Wagner says there’ve been a number of other layoffs and when the state conducts household surveys and asks about labor force activity, those people are then counted as unemployed.
The payout of jobless benefits was $19.8 million, down from June’s pay-out, but Wagner says that’s a matter of the business calendar, not a change in claims. The calendar had only four “processing Wednesdays” instead of five, and that’s the reason for the decline from June to July. However comparing it to July a year before, claims were up — mostly in the construction field. The construction industry had more layoffs than it did in mid-summer 2005, and that sector is seeing record employment levels although there are some layoffs of building workers.
Wagner says there’s good news on the job scene despite the reports of layoffs and summer shutdowns. The number of so-called “non-farm” jobs continued to grow steadily, even after June’s record. Iowa surpassed it in July with just over one-and-a-half million non-farm jobs.
The biggest increase in unemployment claims came from workers laid off in the construction industry, and the biggest growth in new jobs came in government, health care and education.