The state labor market improved in the last month with a drop in unemployment. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, talked about the latest numbers. “Our unemployment rate dropped down to 4.3 percent, which puts us pretty much in line with where we were last year at this time at 4.2. The U.S. rate is still sitting at 5.8 percent for November,” Koonce says. The state rate was 4.5 percent in October.

Koonce says the total number of Iowans working hit a peak for the year at 1,639,800. “We added 18-hundred jobs to the overall economy, so that’s very good,” Koonce says.”The civilian labor force also grew in size, and so when you put those two things together, we had a nice drop in the unemployment rate. We had a large jump in jobs in leisure and hospitality and then in the professional and business services areas.”

Koonce says much of the increase in the leisure and hospitality area came form restaurants hiring more staff. “It’s and indication that people had more disposable income and they are willing to spend it, especially when they are already spending it on the holidays,” according to Koonce.

Some areas did see a drop in jobs including construction, which is typical this time of year, and manufacturing was also down. The trade, transportation and utilities area was still down. “And a lot of that is on the retail side where more people are doing online shopping and not in the stores. So, spending is up, but not necessarily direct walk-in traffic,” Koonce says.

Non-farm employment in Iowa is 15,700 higher than one year ago, which is one percent higher.