Iowa unemployment rate drops to 3.9%

(The Center Square) – Jobs in the leisure and hospitality, construction, government, and professional and business services industries declined in October, Iowa Workforce Development reported Friday.

The government job losses were primarily due to local government cutbacks, the release said.

Iowa’s other industries also took a job-loss hit. October was the third consecutive month of job loss in construction, which has lost jobs in six of the last seven months. Since October 2020, the industry has lost 3,000 jobs. Its employment is now 74,100.

Master Builders of Iowa Director of Public Affairs Ben Hammes told The Center Square in an emailed statement Friday that while its Build Iowa resources website is helping association members with workforce recruitment challenges, the industry’s challenges are more long-term. The association is not planning to introduce legislation regarding workforce in 2022, Hammes said. Short-term challenges that are the most pressing are “surging” material prices, inflation and supply chain issues, he said.

Leisure and hospitality firms are preparing for less business in the winter, the release said. In the past year, the sector has added the most jobs (12,500), but it has experienced decreases in the past three months, resulting in the loss of 2,800 jobs.

Within the professional and business services industry, the professional, scientific and technical services and the administrative support and waste management services sectors took the biggest hits, with a decrease of 300 jobs in each (seasonally adjusted), the department reported. Administration support and waste management has lost 1,100 jobs in the past year.

Retail trade – particularly employment in food and beverage stores and general merchandise retailers – gained the most jobs in October (1,500) in its fifth consecutive monthly gain. In the past year, the subsector has gained 4,100 jobs.

The trade, transportation and utilities supersector gained 2,000 jobs in October. However, the industries experienced a net 1,100 job losses in transportation, warehousing and utilities in the past year.

Education and health care services gained 700 jobs, primarily due to more hiring in health care and social assistance, which has added 2,500 jobs in the past four months. Health care and social assistance had lost jobs every month from January to June.

Manufacturing gained 400 jobs, which the department attributed to hiring in durable goods factories. In the past year, the subsector has gained 7,600 jobs.

Information and “other services” gained 300 and 100 jobs apiece. Other services include equipment and machine repair, promotion of religious activities, advocacy, laundry services, and death care services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9% for the overall Iowa economy. One year ago, the unemployment rate was 4.2%. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 4.6%.

The report said there were 64,700 unemployed Iowans and 1,596,200 working Iowans in October, which is an increase of 34,800 since October 2020 and an increase of 1,600 over September, when 66,200 Iowans were unemployed. Iowa businesses added 1,000 jobs last month and 27,200 jobs since October 2020. The labor force participate rate was 66.8%.

Net employment growth has occurred in five of the past six months, IWD Director Beth Townsend said in the news release.

“Our key challenge remains helping increase the number of applicants employers receive for each opening and getting people who have left the labor market during the pandemic back into the workforce,” Townsend said. “We are hopeful that our new Reemployment Case Management system will help address both of those issues and significantly reduce the amount of time someone is without a job.”

August was the month that experienced a drop in employment. Since April, 22,300 jobs have been added.

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