State jobless rate grows to 2.7% to end year

DES MOINES – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly to 2.7 percent in December. The state’s jobless rate was 2.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.5 percent in December.

“Given the holidays and weather in December, it was not surprising to see a slight increase in the unemployment rate.  Still, Iowa’s workforce grew by 4,400 jobs in December and has grown by 64,900 since the previous December,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development.

“We continue to have more jobs than people to fill them and programs like Future Ready Iowa will help Iowans get the training they need for high-demand occupations and employers to find the talent pipeline they continue to need.”

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 47,200 in December from 46,200 in November. The current estimate is 6,800 higher than the year ago level of 40,400.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,716,100 in December. This figure was 4,400 higher than November and 64,900 higher than one year ago.

Iowa’s total nonfarm employment trended down in December and shed 3,100 jobs. This is the second consecutive month that firms trimmed payrolls following a loss of 2,300 jobs in November. Goods producing sectors were lifted by unusual hiring in the construction sector, but private services declined again this month. Government lost 900 jobs in December but remains up 2,000 jobs versus one year ago.

Manufacturing has largest loss

Manufacturing posted the largest loss in December (-1,400) and has now pared jobs in six consecutive months following a recent high in June. Durable goods factories have been most affected with 1,900 jobs shed over the past three months. Professional and business services were down in December (-1,200) due primarily to cutbacks in professional, scientific, and technical services. This decline follows a drop of 900 jobs last month. Truck transportation looked especially weak in December and transportation, warehousing, and utilities combined shed 1,400 jobs. On the other hand, construction posted an unusual increase in activity to end the year (+1,500). Most of these gains were in specialty trade contractors. Despite losses in October and November construction has generally been positive through much of the year. Leisure and hospitality also fared well to end the year (+1,200). Growth was split between entertainment and accommodations and food services.

Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm employment has edged down (-2,400). Trade, transportation, and utilities leads all sectors with 3,300 jobs shed. These losses are nearly even between retail trade and transportation and warehousing. Professional and business services have also been trending down recently (-2,900) with administrative support and waste management positions being most affected. Both financial services and manufacturing have shed 1,600 jobs annually. Alternatively, those sectors that have advanced compared to last December are construction (+4,500), other services (+1,500), and leisure and hospitality (+300).

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