An eastern Iowa think tank uses the phrase “pretty good” to describe job growth in Iowa during the first 10 months of the year.
According to the Labor Department, Iowa’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in October — and the number of non-farm jobs in Iowa increased by six-thousand last month. David Osterberg of the Iowa Policy Project says there’s been an average of 1700 job openings in Iowa in each of the past 10 months.
“That’s pretty good,” Osterberg says.
Iowa manufacturers have hired 8000 more workers in the past 10 months.
“We tend to like that because we think that those are better jobs,” Osterberg says.
Other job gains have been in businesses like restaurants and hotels and in health care facilities that tend to pay low wages. Osterberg says Iowa’s job gains would be more significant were it not for job losses in city, county and state governments.
“We’ve been shedding jobs in the government sector and it’s keeping us from really picking up,” o says. “Remember, we’re still 32,000 jobs below where we were when we got into this mess, so we’re not out of the hole of the recession yet.”
Iowa hit a peak level of employment in May of 2008. According to Osterberg, it will take Iowa 19 months to get back to that peak at the current rate of job creation.
“I think that 6000 jobs in a month is good,” Osterberg says. “But we always have to say: ‘It’s only one month.'”
Over 13,000 Iowans made an initial application for unemployment benefits in October, a 43 percent increase from September. But the number of long-term unemployed is dropping, down by about seven percent for 2012.