Mar 15 2012 Iowa unemployment down to 5.4%, with manufacturers adding 3,500 jobs

Re-posted from the Des Moines Register article by Danelle Eller

Iowa manufacturers added 3,500 jobs in January, a powerful start to a year that began with a total of 3,700 more jobs than in December.

Clipper Wind manufacturing

Photo: Clipper Wind manufacturing,

Iowa’s unemployment rate shrank to 5.4 percent in January, down from 5.6 percent in December and 6.1 percent in January 2011. The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in January, down from 8.5 percent in December and 9.1 percent a year earlier.

The state has added 9,200 jobs over a year earlier, with manufacturing again leading those gains with 11,800 jobs. Government and professional and business services posted the largest losses compared to January 2011.

State leaders say the improving job numbers are a sign the economy is improving.

“The state’s unemployment rate has been tracking downward rapidly since fourth quarter 2011, as the recovery picked up speed,” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Newly revised figures for 2011 show that the statewide unemployment rate averaged 5.9 percent in 2011, which was the sixth-lowest rate in the nation.”

Iowa’s unemployment rate — and total nonfarm employment — were adjusted downward beginning in July, the revised data shows. The January report was delayed while the data was benchmarked. February’s employment data will be released March 30.

The estimate of unemployed Iowans dropped to 90,400 in January from 93,400 in December. A year ago, 101,200 Iowans were unemployed.

The state says manufacturing has gained jobs for 19 consecutive months, based on the adjusted 2011 data shows.

Leisure and hospitality services gained 3,200 jobs in January, but remains down 900 jobs for the year. Other services added 1,600 jobs in January and has 1,100 jobs over a year earlier.

Construction added 300 jobs in January and is ahead 3,100 jobs compared to January 2011.

Some of the largest year-over-year losses came from government, with 4,000 fewer jobs, and professional and business services, dropping 3,200 jobs compared to January 2011. Professional and business services pared 1,200 jobs in January over December, declining in four of the last five months, the state said.

The professional services job losses came primarily from temporary employment, a sign that employers are hiring full-time workers instead of relying on temp workers, the state said.

Education and health services shed the most jobs in January, down 2,500. The loss was primarily fueled by a seasonal drop in education services, the state said. The sector is only 200 jobs ahead of a year earlier.

Trade and transportation lost 700 jobs in January but remains up 2,900 jobs. The state said gains in wholesale trade was more than offset by losses in retail trade and transportation.