The original version of this article misspelled the name of Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Kerry Koonce.
Iowa's unemployment rate dropped under 5 percent in November for the first time since the Great Recession in 2008.
"Iowa's unemployment rate reached a milestone in November," Theresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development, said in a press release. "November marked the first time since December 2008 that the state's jobless rate was lower than 5.0 percent."
Nationally, unemployment dropped from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent in November and only dipped below 8 percent earlier this fall. At its highest, Iowa's unemployment was 6.3 percent.
Iowa's unemployment rate held fairly steady throughout 2012 - bouncing between 5.1 and 5.5 percent a month - until November, according to monthly unemployment reports. State employment officials attributed the dip in November to 1,000 jobs added in the manufacturing sector and an additional 700 health care jobs. The holiday retail season added another 400 jobs.
Ironically, the state's workforce also has been shrinking in 2012. The civilian workforce dropped almost 22,000 since November 2011. And although there were 4,600 more Iowans working in November than in October, that number is down 9,400 workers from a year ago.
Kerry Koontz, a spokeswoman for the department, said the unemployment rate is figured using the total number of people employed compared to the number of people who are unemployed and looking for work. It does not include people who are unemployed, but not looking for work.
"This frequently happens in recessions as individuals who are long-term unemployed give up looking for awhile. Then, as the economy improves, they begin looking again and are reconnected to the workforce," Koontz said.