Iowa’s unemployment rate jumped by nearly half a percent in May. Iowa Workforce Development labor market analyst, Ann Wagner, says, "We had a surge in unemployment for the month of May."

Wagner say,"The statewide unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent from 3.5 (percent) in April. Now, it was close to the year ago level which was 3.8 percent, but we haven’t had a rate as high as 3.9 percent since March of 2006." Wagner says three main factors contributed to the "surge" in Iowa’s jobless rate.

"We’re seeing more layoffs that are construction related and also energy related," Wagner says. "We had new entrants come into the labor force in May as graduates came out of school looking for their first job and then during the past three months we’ve had real sluggish job growth and when that happens over an extended period of time then sooner or later the unemployment rates goes up."

Wagner estimates there were 65,500 people who were unemployed in Iowa last month. "We’re seeing manufacturers that produce construction-related products like construction machinery, windows and doors and kitchen cabinets and wallboard — those types of manufacturers are facing layoffs around the state that tie into the housing industry," she says. According to Wagner, Iowa’s job picture is relatively "stable" compared to neighbors like Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"We’re performing much like the states of Nebraska and the Dakotas. We’re stable," Wagner says. "However, some of our neighbors like Minnesota and Wisconsin are experiencing more severe problems and in the case of Wisconsin they’re facing some GM layoffs, so they’re going to be impacted by the layoffs in the auto industry." The national unemployment rate for May was 5.2%. Michigan had the highest jobless figure of any state, at 8.5%.