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Iowa unemployment 6 far better than rest of U.S. at 6 percent

Iowa’s jobless rate fell to 6 percent in September from 6.1 percent in August, but the number of working Iowans is down and so is the level of nonfarm employment.

The state continues to do significantly better than the nation as a whole, which had an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent in September, said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development.

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Teresa_wahlert_125-112x150_2310.jpg

Teresa Wahlert

“However, we recognize that 100,000 Iowans are still unemployed and the department continually works to connect unemployed workers with current opportunities throughout the state,” she said. “Most notably, we have ramped up efforts with direct outreach to Iowans when area employers are looking to hire a significant quantity of individuals into jobs with high wages and excellent benefits.”

But the head of the Iowa Policy Project, a nonpartisan research organization, warned the state has lost 4,600 nonfarm jobs in the last four months. Iowa nonfarm jobs are still 46,000 below the peak level of 1.52 million in May of 2008.

The state was adding an average of 3,500 nonfarm jobs per month for the first five months of the year, but the state has lost nonfarm jobs in three of the last four months.

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Osterberg-150x103_2311.jpg

David Osterberg

“A robust recovery, the likes of which we saw in the 1990s, or the first half of this year, would show consistent growth month to month,” Osterberg said. “We’re nowhere close to that right now.”

Osterberg also pointed out the loss of 2,100 jobs in government in September, which he said has “important public-policy implications.”

“First, we continue to shed public-sector jobs at a time when the economy could use more investment,” he said. “Public infrastructure improvements can boost jobs in manufacturing, construction and supporting industries. Furthermore, when unemployment is high we must keep up services for families that are working fewer hours than they want or in work that does not tap their full potential.”

Osterberg also connected the drop in unemployment in the state is due to a drop in the labor force. The labor force fell by 3,500 from August, to 1.66 million people and is down 9,800 from a year ago.

“This means extending unemployment benefits, expanding work supports for low-income working Iowans and assuring that we have public workers on the job to meet the demand,” he said. “These sorts of investments will stop the erosion of public-sector jobs that also support the economy.”

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