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Iowa unemployment rate sticks at 2.5 percent for second month

Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, speaks during Iowa Women Lead Change's (IWLC) launch of the EPIC Corporate Challenge at Geonetric in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Mar. 31, 2016. (Gazette photo)
Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, speaks during Iowa Women Lead Change's (IWLC) launch of the EPIC Corporate Challenge at Geonetric in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Mar. 31, 2016. (Gazette photo)

The unemployment rate in Iowa stayed at 2.5 percent in August for a second straight month, Iowa Workforce Development said Friday.

The state’s jobless rate crept up to that rate in July, following a year of stagnation at 2.4 percent, since July 2018.

As of August, there were 1,686,200 working Iowans, up 5,800 from July and 39,300 from August 2018, Agency Director Beth Townsend noted in a news release.

Even so, Townsend noted, state employers still are seeking skilled workers to fill what she said were tens of thousands of open jobs.

“At the Future Ready Iowa Fall Summits, employers are sharing successful strategies with each other, including working with the disabled, returning citizens, as well as how easy registered apprenticeship programs are to create and maintain and the overwhelmingly positive benefit employers get from these programs,” she said in the release. “There’s still plenty of time to attend a summit and you can register at FutureReadyIowa.gov/registration.”

Iowa Workforce Development’s new statistics show 1,000 more Iowans were jobless in August compared to July, with the number of unemployed workers increasing to 43,800 from 42,800. That estimate is 3,600 higher than in August 2018.

The U.S. unemployment rate stayed at 3.7 percent in August.

Just 300 jobs were added across Iowa businesses last month, with construction seeing the largest boost at 1,000 new jobs, fueled by new residential and commercial development. Financial activities and professional and business services also saw respective 800- and 600-job increases.

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On the other hand, the education and health care sector lost 1,600 jobs in August, near entirely due to staffing reductions in the health care and social-assistance sector. A sluggishness in the retail sector also contributed to the shedding of 400 trade, transportation and utilities positions.

Iowans who have stopped looking for work or who otherwise have cycled out of the system are not counted among the unemployed.

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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