Iowa’s unemployment rate in February climbed to 4.4 percent, up from 4.3 percent in January. But, the latest report from the Iowa Workforce Development agency ultimately contains positive economic news.
IWD spokesperson Kerry Koonce says the tenth-of-a-percent hike in the jobless rate was driven by a significant increase in the size of the labor force. “What that means is people who were previously maybe still discouraged with the labor market are moving back into it. When that happens, you tend to increase your number of unemployed as well,” Koonce said. “We’re at one-million-610-thousand employed Iowans and that’s the highest level we’ve been at since June 2008.”
The number of unemployed Iowans rose to 74,400. The state’s unemployment rate last month is down from a year ago, when Iowa posted a 4.9 percent jobless rate. The state added 3,900 nonfarm jobs in February, up by 20,100 compared to a year ago.
The gains in nonfarm employment last month were led by the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which added 2,000 jobs. “That was followed by construction, which added 1,500 (jobs),” Koonce said. “That’s very good this time of year. We like to see construction starting to increase. We are saw nice gains in the professional and business services area (+600) and in health care services (+600).”
Those job gains were offset by losses in other areas as manufacturing shed 900 jobs in February, while the financial activities sector trimmed 300 positions.