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Iowa's unemployment rate lowest since 2000 at 2.4 percent

Employment Kiosks set up in the North Liberty Library are among the first virtual unemployment offices to be set up to help communities go back to work, Tuesday, August 30, 2011. (Kenny Knutson/SourceMedia Group News)
Employment Kiosks set up in the North Liberty Library are among the first virtual unemployment offices to be set up to help communities go back to work, Tuesday, August 30, 2011. (Kenny Knutson/SourceMedia Group News)

Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped to a historic low not seen in 18 years, and it’s the second-lowest rate in the nation, according to numbers released Friday.

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 2.4 percent in October, according to a news release from Iowa Workforce Development. The state’s jobless rate was 2.9 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in October, the release said.

“Due to increases in our manufacturing and construction sectors, Iowa has not seen an unemployment rate this low since March 2000,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, in the release. “The strengths of these sectors are the backbone of Iowa’s continued economic growth. This low unemployment rate makes it imperative for us to focus on building the skilled workforce necessary to power Iowa’s continued economic growth.”

A 2.4 percent unemployment rate in Iowa was first recorded nearly 19 years ago in December 1999, and the rate held there until March 2000, according to the news release. The unemployment rate in Iowa has never been lower since the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program began tracking it in 1976.

The number of unemployed Iowans dropped to 41,200 in October, down from 41,800 in September and 8,000 lower than this month last year, according to Iowa Workforce Development. The number of working Iowans increased to 1,647,100 in October, 2,700 higher than September and 21,300 higher than one year ago.

Private sector businesses were responsible for the job gains in October, the news release said. Government shed 1,000 jobs following another loss of 3,600 in September, with most of the losses coming at the state level.

Leisure and hospitality jobs saw the most growth in October with 2,100. Construction added 1,600 jobs, the ninth-consecutive month of job growth for the construction sector. Manufacturing grew in October in both durable and nondurable goods factories and gained 1,100 jobs.

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Retail employment slid, with a loss of 500 jobs, and jobs in education and health services decreased by 300.

Numbers provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show Iowa with the second highest unemployment rate in the nation, led by Hawaii at 2.3 percent and followed by New Hampshire at 2.6 percent.

These figures do not include people who have stopped looking for work or who for other reasons no longer are in the system.

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