IWD map.

The state unemployment rate held steady at 3.1% in December. Iowa Workforce Development director, Beth Townsend, says there were some positive signs as the year wrapped up.

“Iowa employers added 2,400 jobs in December — we’ve had 10, out of 12 months of job growth, over 2022. That’s a good sign,” Townsend says. “Added 34,200 jobs over the past year. So that’s also a good sign. We have 45,600 Iowans working now that we didn’t have in 2021.”

The labor force participation rate dropped slightly as Townsend says about 1,700 people dropped out of the workforce. “It’s hard to say why or attribute it to a single factor. At the end of the year, we traditionally see that’s when people retire,” she says. “So it could be some folks who retired at the end of 2022. That might explain some of it.”

Townsend says the state entered 2023 on good footing in the face of some ongoing national issues. “It’s solid is how I would rate it. Because when you look at what’s going on nationally, in terms of, you know, fiscal markets, and the high inflation and instability in the supply chain, those types of issues are still around in 2022 and causing problems,” Townsend says. ” So the fact that we added, you know, over 34-thousand jobs in the last 12 months, is a good sign.”

Employers continue to cite the need for more skilled workers, and she says that’s one thing IWD will continue working on. “That’ll remain our focus is making connections between employers and employees, trying to help people find the right training programs they need. You know, we have a lot of workforce training opportunities in Iowa. Our community colleges have a lot of different programs. We have other registered apprenticeship programs,” Townsend says. She says there are lot of good programs trying to create employee pipelines that are crucial to fixing the workforce crisis employers face.