Iowa's unemployment rate drops to 3.1 percent in December

Labor force grows for first time since September

A passerby walks past a hiring sign while entering a Target store in September. (Associated Press)
A passerby walks past a hiring sign while entering a Target store in September. (Associated Press)

Iowa’s unemployment rate decreased from 3.8 percent to 3.1 percent in December 2020, Iowa Workforce Development said Tuesday.

It’s Iowa’s lowest unemployment rate since February, but it still is above the 2.8 percent rate from 12 months earlier.

The number of Iowans filing for jobless benefits decreased by 10,000 while employment increased by 22,800 people. It was the first time Iowa’s civilian labor force grew since September.

“The drop in December’s unemployment rate, as well as the increase of an additional 22,800 Iowans finding work, is a good sign for Iowa’s economic recovery,” IWD Director Beth Townsend said in a news release.

“November through February are typically the months IWD sees the most unemployment claims due to seasonal layoffs. The fact that so many people found jobs during this time is evidence that our economy remains strong and our recovery from the pandemic is on the right track.”

The labor force participation rate, which rose from 64.8 percent to 65.3 percent, remains well below the 70.9 percent from 12 months earlier.

Almost half of the job losses since December 2019 have come from the leisure and hospitality sector.

Education and health services and government also have more than 9,000 fewer jobs than a year ago.

These numbers are preliminary and are yet to be adjusted by the U.S. Department of Labor. The unemployment rate also only includes people actively seeking work and therefore does not necessarily give a full picture of how many Iowans are out of work.

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