Iowa’s September unemployment rate stopped what has been a slight movement upward in recent months. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Kerri Koonce, talked about the numbers.

“Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped from 5.5 to 5.2 (percent) for September, and that’s kind of very similar to what the national rate did, dropping form 8.1 to 7.8 percent. And it makes Iowa’s the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the country,” according to Koonce. The state lost 4,200 jobs and overall the picture was a mixture of gains and losses.

“We’ve got some gains in areas, construction is still seeing nice gains, the financial activities area added 500 to the system, and professional and business services added 13-hundred to the mix,” Koonce says. “We also saw some decrease in the overall size of our labor force. Most of that is coming from what appears to be students who had graduated in May and potentially did not find work and have gone back to grad school and are no longer considered to be part of the labor force.”

Some say the number of people who have quit looking for work added to the unemployment rate gives the true picture of the economy. Koonce says it is hard to nail down those workers who are no longer looking. “It’s not a number you can easily project because it is information that comes from the federal level. And when they are doing what they call their community survey, they pull some of this information. Once you’re not part of the labor force, you are not part of this information and they don’t really provide us that data broken down in a way that makes it easily assertible across all states,” Koonce explains.

Iowa mirrored the national drop in unemployment this month, but Koonce says the state’s unemployment rate started going down before the national rate, so mirroring the national numbers hasn’t been the norm. “When it’s a positive economy and everything is growing across the nation, our numbers tend to mirror it. But when you are in and out of the recession stage and kind of going through a slow growth stage, it’s typical for the numbers not to mirror each other,” Koonce says.

She expects the “slow growth stage” to continue. “Especially within Iowa, the small businesses are just really holding their breath until the elections are over and they know what is going to happen with their tax rates and those sorts of things before they really put the momentum into expanding their businesses,” Koonce says. There were 85,800 unemployed Iowans in September, compared to 89,700 in August according to Workforce Development figures.

The drop of 3,900 in unemployment represented the largest monthly loss for the year. There were 97,000 unemployed Iowans in the same period one year ago.