(The Center Square) – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment fell two-tenths of a percentage point in December to 3.5 percent with 57,900 unemployed Iowans, a decrease of 3,800 since November, Iowa Workforce Development announced Tuesday.
Working Iowans numbered 1,604,800 in December, an increase of 5,200, with a labor force participation rate of 66.9 percent, the news release said.
Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said the figures spell continued growth and recovery in the Hawkeye State.
“More than 45,000 Iowans joined the employed last year as Iowa reignited its focus on job growth and getting citizens back to work,” she said in the release.
Private industries were responsible for the December gains. Government jobs didn’t change from November totals, although government has added 7,100 jobs since December 2020.
With 11,700 more jobs, December was the fourth month of job gains, though it included striking manufacturing workers’ return to production lines following the durable goods production drop in November.
Manufacturing added the most jobs in December (6,100) as strikers returned to work in durable goods. Nondurable goods factories, in comparison, added 100 jobs. In the past year, manufacturing has added 6,500 jobs, across durable goods and nondurable goods.
Construction has gained 2,000 jobs since October. The sector trended downward in 2021, but the sector gained jobs in the past six months.
Wholesale and retail trade gained 2,300 jobs in December.
“Both sectors have provided strong evidence that consumers and businesses are increasing demand for goods, with both industries steadily advancing since May and adding 14,000 jobs,” the release said.
In December, accommodations and food services gained 1,000 jobs while other services gained 600 jobs. Professional, scientific, and technical services lost 500 jobs after gaining 500 jobs in November. Overall, the industry gained 800 jobs since December 2020.
Finance and insurance, the sector which had the sixth-highest number of employees in the third quarter of 2021, lost 400 jobs last month, following decreases of 100 jobs and 400 jobs in November and October, respectively.
Total nonfarm employment gained 41,200 jobs in the past 12 months, despite administrative and support and waste management losing 1,800 jobs and construction losing 1,600 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality gained 19,600 jobs (16.7 percent increase) in 2021, which was the highest super sector gain.
The IWD credited 2021 retail trade jobs increases to strong hiring. It said the sector helped fuel a gain of 5,600 jobs in trade, transportation, and utilities.
Iowa paid $26.7 million for unemployment insurance claims in December. The spending increased since November ($12,513,463), but it’s less than half of what was paid out in December 2020 ($57 million). Initial claims were 17,762, which were also less than half of December 2020 tallies.
On average, throughout the private industries, annual weekly earnings increased from $909.54 in January to $950.11 in December. Fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment ranges from $715 in Adair County to $1,036 in Iowa City.
The state launched its Reemployment Case Management program this month to help Iowans find careers.