Iowa’s unemployment rate reached a milestone in November. Kerry Koonce is a spokesperson for the Iowa Workforce Development agency, which released the state’s latest jobless figures this morning.

“Our unemployment rate has dropped below 5-percent for the first time since December 2008,” Koonce says. “We’re down to 4.9-percent, which is two-tenths of a percent lower than October (5.1%).” Nationally, the unemployment rate in November hit 7.7% — down from 7.9% in October.

The number of unemployed Iowans dropped from 83,600 in October to 80,400 in November. That’s also down from 92,600 in November 2011. One year ago, Iowa’s unemployment rate stood at 5.6%.

“I think the biggest change from one year ago is we’ve added 8,300 jobs in manufacturing. We’re doing a good job recovering in that industry compared to the recession,” Koonce said. Between October and November, manufacturing added 1,000 jobs. Several other sectors added jobs, including 400 positions in local government.

“And we continue to see increases in trade and transportation (+400) and health services (+700), so it’s kind of spread out across the board,” Koonce said. The total number of working Iowans increased between October and November, but there were 9,400 fewer Iowans working last month compared to a year ago.

“Part of that’s changes that have happened in the size of the labor force,” Koonce explained. The IWD report shows, overall, Iowa has added 12,300 jobs over the past year.