Iowa’s unemployment rate hit 6.8% in August, up from 6.5% in July. Kerry Koonce is a spokesperson for Iowa Workforce Development, which released the new jobless report today.

“We haven’t been as high as we currently are since 1986,” Koonce said. Iowa’s pool of unemployed workers grew from just over 108,000 in July to 114,000 last month. That figure is still short of the record set 26 years ago.

“We were at 120,900 in 1983, so that was at the height of the farm crisis as well,” Koonce said. August marked the seventh consecutive month of job losses. “We lost 1,300 jobs in professional and business services, which focuses mainly on temporary help and professional consultants,” Koonce said.

“We also lost 700 jobs in health care and health care’s actually been fairly stable throughout this recession, even adding (jobs), so this is one of only a couple months where we’ve really seen a health care loss.” Manufacturing added 3,200 jobs in August, but Koonce says that mostly involved workers returning to factories following temporary layoffs in July.

Over the last year, Iowa has lost 28,000 manufacturing positions. Between August 2007 and August 2008, the professional and business services sector has cut 10,700 jobs, while construction cut 9,300 jobs. While there are signs the economy is beginning to recover, Koonce says improved jobless numbers will lag behind.

“It’s probably going to be into the first and second quarter of 2010 before we really start to see an abatement in the unemployment rate,” Koonce said. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.7% in August from 9.4% in July, and 6.2% one year ago. Iowa’s unemployment rate one year ago was 4.2%.