Iowa’s unemployment rate rose to four percent in December according to a new report from Iowa Workforce Development. Spokesperson Ann Wagner says it was the highest rate recorded in 2007 and also the highest rate for Iowa since January of 2006. Overall, Iowa lost 900 jobs in December. Iowa’s numbers follow the national trend. The U.S. jobless rate last month reached five percent.
Wagner says unemployment rates increased in 46 states in December. She credits the housing downturn. Despite the December report, Wagner says Iowa’s overall numbers for 2007 show a relatively strong state economy.
"Manufacturing’s a major driver of job growth in Iowa," Wagner said. "Even though we had the Maytag closing, a lot of manufacturers hired during the year and there was a lot of job availability in that industry." For the year, Iowa added 19,000 non-farm jobs.
Wagner says the greatest gains in 2007 were reported in education and health, leisure and hospitality, construction and trade and transportation. In December, jobless rates for individual Iowa counties ranged from a high 9.2% to a low of 2.7.
Wagner says Jasper County’s 9.2% unemployment rate reflected the recent closing of Maytag in Newton. The lowest unemployment rate was reported in northwest Iowa’s Sioux County – where 18,960 people held jobs and 520 were unemployed. The full December report is available on-line at www.IowaWorkforce.org.