Iowa’s unemployment rate last month dropped to 4.2 percent, down from 4.3 percent in November. Iowa Workforce Development spoeksperson Kerry Koonce says the December unemployment rate of 4.2 percent is the lowest rate reported in the state since December 2008.
In December 2012, the unemployment rate stood at 5 percent. “Another positive sign is that our number of people who are unemployed dropped to 70,200. That is the lowest level for (2013),” Koonce said. Iowa posted the lower unemployment rate despite losing 2,400 non-farm jobs in December.
The construction industry lost 1,900 jobs last month, likely because of the cold weather. “One thing to note there is construction held high employment numbers longer than typical. So, we saw a bigger drop in December…since we had nicer weather that they were able to continue working in and then with December turning so cold, we saw big changes there,” Koonce said.
Another seasonal industry, leisure and hospitality, trimmed 2,600 jobs in December. The job losses were offset by gains in a host of other sectors.
Trade and transportation posted a gain of 2,200 jobs, manufacturing added 1,000 jobs, and government added 500 jobs – primarily at the local, rather than state, level, according to Koonce.
The state’s total number of working Iowans increased to slightly more than 1.6 million, up from 1.59 million in November. Roughly 53,400 more Iowans were working last month compared to one year ago. The national unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 7 percent in November.