Iowa’s unemployment rate has dropped again, while the number of people who are working in Iowa reached another milestone in August. Ann Wagner is a labor market analyst for the state Workforce Development agency. “Non-farm jobs are continuing to grow. We had a record number in August,” Wagner says. Over one-point-six million Iowans were employed in August.
Wagner says the rate of job growth is slowing, however. “Our job growth has slowed compared from where it was in the beginning of the year,” Wagner says. “I think the higher interest rates and the higher energy prices and the higher energy prices that people were paying had quite a bit to do with that.” Looking at individual sectors of the Iowa economy, the number of manufacturing jobs increased in Iowa this August while the number of jobs in the service and information sectors fell. Wagner says that’s a reversal of previous trends.
“In Iowa, manufacturing continues to grow despite some of the layoffs we’ve heard about,” Wagner says. “Over the year, the industry’s up 5300 (jobs). It continues to do well in this state.” In August, the retail industry was soft, too. Wagner says that’s because there’s a lot of competition among retailers and people seem to be controlling their spending habits. The unemployment rate in Iowa dipped in August.
According to the government report, three-point-six percent of Iowans were unemployed in August. That’s identical to the jobless figure for June, and down two-tenths of a percent from the slightly-higher rate in July. In August of 2005, the statewide jobless rate was four-and-a-half percent, so last month’s rate is almost a full percentage point lower.
The report indicates about 61-thousand people are unemployed in Iowa. One year ago, there were over 75-thousand Iowans looking for work. According to Wagner, Iowa businesses aren’t too worried about not being able to fill job openings. “At this point, we’re still not hearing too much on that topic like we did in the late 1990s. We definitely know there are some skill gaps where people are looking for certain types of skills and can’t always find a sufficient number of people with those skills,” Wagner says.
The latest government report on employment also indicates the construction industry is surging in Iowa, with more than 77-thousand employed on Iowa construction sites this past August, a record for the construction industry in Iowa.