Latest report: 77,100 Iowans jobless in Dec.

The Iowa Workforce Development agency issued a news release this morning, indicating Iowa's economy has hit a low that's akin to the low recorded right after the 9/11 attacks.  Here's the Radio Iowa story.  That story includes this sobering comment from an economist:  "We've had accounts of more layoffs since these statistics were generated, so it could well get worse, you know, in the next month of two."

Here's the news release:

Layoffs Push State’s Unemployment Rate to 4.6 Percent

DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to
4.6 percent in December from 4.3 percent in November. One year ago, the statewide jobless rate was reported at 3.8 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for December climbed to 7.2 percent, as businesses across the nation downsized their workforces in response to slower growth and falling profits.

"An acceleration in layoffs toward the end of the year was responsible for the large increase in the December unemployment rate," said Elisabeth Buck, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "The most difficult six months of the current downturn will be the just-completed fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2009."

The total number of working Iowans dropped to 1,594,800 in December, its lowest point since August 2007. The current month’s figure compares with 1,607,200 for November, and 1,602,800 for the same month one year ago.

The estimate of unemployed persons reached a 2008 peak of 77,100 in December. The level stood 5,400 higher than the prior month, and 13,200 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Total nonfarm employment continued to track downward in December, decreasing to 1,513,300 from a revised November figure of 1,521,100. The monthly drop of 7,800 was the largest since October 2001, and brought the state’s fourth-quarter job losses to 12,400.  This month’s decline also marked the first time for 2008 that nonfarm employment fell below the year ago level.

The professional and business services sector has been losing employment nationwide, and Iowa followed the trend by dropping 4,500 in December. Other losses were contained in the goods-producing sectors, where construction and manufacturing decreased by 3,500 and 2,300, respectively. Leisure and hospitality added 1,200 jobs over the month, as lodging facilities picked up employment in December. Education and health added 700 jobs, and trade and transportation increased by 400.

Nonfarm employment decreased by 7,700 jobs over the year. The larger losses were reflected in professional and business services (-9,300), manufacturing (-7,000), and construction (-3,800). Trade and transportation gained the most jobs (3,700), followed by education and health (3,500).

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Compared to the national rate, 4.6% is good. Unfortunately, not all areas of the state are doing that well. For example, the county unemployment rate in Dubuque has reached 5.3%.