Iowa’s unemployment rate fell to 6.6% in December, down from 6.7% in November. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson Kerry Koonce says the state’s jobless figures have been holding steady for about six months. She says companies are still reluctant to hire, making it difficult for unemployed Iowans to find work.
“We’re really kind of in this holding pattern,” Koonce said. “We’re starting to see signs of growth in the number of hours people worked, but we’re not adding jobs yet.” The slight bit of good news in today’s report is offset by word that two meatpacking plants in western Iowa will be cutting nearly 2,000 jobs.
Tyson Foods announced this morning it’ll trim 480 positions at its plant in Council Bluffs in March. That follows Wednesday’s announcement by Smithfield Foods that it’ll close a hog processing plant in Sioux City. The April shutdown will eliminate 1,450 jobs.
“Those reductions won’t start to take place until March and April, so we won’t see those (in the unemployment reports) until then. But, it will definitely have an effect over there,” Koonce said. The total number of unemployed Iowans stood at 110,800 in December. The manufacturing sector trimmed 1,800 jobs last month.
Koonce says manufacturing had started to show some improvements before December. Compared to a year ago, manufacturing in Iowa is down 19,900 jobs. Koonce says that figure was close to 30,000 just a few months ago.
See the full jobs report here.