Iowa Workforce Development says growth in small businesses led to a drop in unemployment for the state in December. Kerry Koonce tracks the numbers for the state. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.3% in December compared to 6.6% in November — the largest monthly decrease in the rate for the year.
The national unemployment rate droped from 9.8% in November to 9.4% in December. Koonce says the “non-farm” employment, which includes the largest employers, lost 6,500 jobs in December, but other areas saw increases. She says the unemployment rate looks at an overall picture, so it includes agriculture, small businesses and the self-employed workers, and Koonce says some of those areas are seeing increases that the non-farm area is not seeing yet.
Koonce says the non-farm businesses are the ones that employ hundreds of workers, while the small businesses usually have 20 to 30 employees. Koonce says 70% of Iowa’s businesses have 50 employees or less, so their growth can have a dramatic impact on the unemployment rate. Koonce says those larger businesses will take some time to show the growth.
Koonce says that’s typical in a recovery, as small businesses see some growth and self-employment sees growth, but they expect to see more growth in the non-farm jobs next month. The numbers do show there are 15,400 more jobs in the non-farm sector compared to this time last year. It’s the second month in a row the unemployment rate has dropped, and while Koonce says that’s a good sign, she is not ready to say things are fully turned around yet.
Koonce says they want to see a few more months of improvement before the call it a trend. She says as we move into spring, they expect to see job growth. Koonce says the job growth won’t be heavy, but should be steady through 2011. Total employment in the state climbed to a seven-month high of 1,569,500 in December, over five thousand more than in November.
The 6.3% unemployment rate in December is the lowest it has been since it hit that same number in August of 2009. The rate moved upward or held steady for 15 straight months from that point until the slight drop in November.