State officials report job growth in Iowa was “mildly subdued” last month, but Iowa’s August unemployment rate was the same as July’s. Ann Wagner, a labor market analyst for the Iowa Workforce Development agency, says the unemployment rate stayed at 3.9%, but Wagner says that’s above the rate of August a year ago, which stood at 3.6%.
No single industry suffered big job losses in August, according to Wagner. The trade and transportation sectors lost 600 workers in August. The largest increase occurred in government employment as 1,100 jobs were added in that sector of the economy in August.
Despite the slump in the housing industry, the number of construction jobs in Iowa expanded in August by 600. “Our construction industry in this state is certainly holding its own,” Wagner says. “Home building is the area of construction that’s slow and actually, I believe that commercial projects and road building — those types of projects are picking up the slack.”
Officials estimate just under 65,000 Iowans were unemployed in August. Areas of the state are seeing significantly higher unemployment than others, according to Wagner. “The highest unemployment rate occurred in Appanoose County. That rate was 6.8 percent. We can certainly relate that to the closing of Rubbermaid about a year ago,” Wagner says. “…We had very low unemployment up in the northwest corner of Iowa.” The jobless figure for both Sioux and Lyon Counties stood at 2.6% — the lowest in the state.
“In that area of the state, they’re talking about labor shortages,” Wagner says. In August, the total number of working Iowans fell to its lowest point for the year. Just under 1.6 million Iowans were in the workforce last month.