DES MOINES, IOWA Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in December, the lowest level reported since June 2009. The current rate compares with 5.7 percent for November, and 6.1 percent for December 2010. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped for the fourth straight month in December to 8.5 percent. The November rate was revised to 8.7 percent, and the December 2010 rate stood at 9.4 percent.
"The state's economy ended 2011 in a better place than was expected just a few months ago," said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "Both the labor force and total employment are beginning to trend upward, and the unemployment rate has fallen considerably below the 6.0 percent mark."
The statewide estimate of unemployed persons fell to 93,500 in December from 94,700 in November. The level of unemployed persons stood at 102,600 one year ago.
The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,565,500 in December from 1,562,000 in November. Iowa's measure of total employment began to increase in November after declining since May.
Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment
Total nonfarm employment dropped to 1,482,400 in December from a revised November figure of 1,487,100. However, the December jobs count is 13,300 higher than one year ago. Overall, the trend for 2011 was positive; job gains were posted for seven months, and job losses were reported for five.
Manufacturing has proven once again to be a frontrunner in the recovery, adding 800 jobs in December. The gains were entirely in nondurable good factories. Leisure and hospitality shed the most jobs during the month (-2,500). Within this sector, accommodations and food services decreased by 1,300 jobs. Construction dropped 900 jobs, as the sector reached a seasonal low. The trade and transportation sector declined by 200, as a gain of 800 jobs in transportation mostly offset a combined loss of 1,000 jobs in retail and wholesale trade.
Compared to last year, total nonfarm employment remains markedly positive. Manufacturing led all sectors with an increase of 8,600 jobs over the year. Education and health advanced by 5,200, and trade and transportation was up 4,700. Government trimmed the most jobs at 4,300. Finance continued to edge downward, losing 2,300 jobs since last December. Smaller year-over-year losses occurred in other services (-1,500), information (-900), and leisure and hospitality (-400).