Iowa’s unemployment rate increased almost one full percentage point, to 3.7 percent, in March, as the state’s statistics begin to reflect people who have lost jobs as a result of COVID-19.
Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, said Friday the March figure only reflects “the very beginning of the impact of the substantial increase in unemployment claims” state workers have filed since March 16.
The April unemployment rate — scheduled to be released in mid-May — will be “more reflective” of the pandemic, she said.
For the past three months, from December through February, Iowa’s unemployment rate remained at 2.8 percent, after two months at 2.6 percent, in October and November, and three months at 2.5 percent, between July and September.
There were 1,665,300 working Iowans in March — a decrease of 38,100 from February and 12,300 lower than March 2019 — Iowa Workforce Development said.
Meanwhile, the state’s count of unemployed residents increased by 14,200 this month, from 49,300 in February to 63,500 in March. That figure is 16,700 higher than the year-ago level of 46,800.
The U.S. unemployment rate also increased by 0.9 of a percentage point in March, from 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent.
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“While there were more unemployed than March 2019, there were 1.67 million Iowans employed last month,” Townsend said. “The more Iowans who remain employed throughout should help reduce the economic impact and hopefully assist in a faster recovery period when the economy begins to reopen.”
Iowa businesses shed 3,500 jobs in March, including 1,600 positions in accommodation and food services, 1,100 positions in health care and 800 positions in durable goods manufacturing.
Though Iowa Workforce Development said some decline in payrolls was anticipated in March, the majority of the loss “associated with efforts to contain the coronavirus” will not be evident until April’s figures.
Townsend said “dozens of employers” now are looking for workers and encouraged temporarily unemployed Iowans to view opportunities at iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov.
Iowans who have stopped looking for work or who otherwise have cycled out of the system are not counted among the unemployed.
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