Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to drop in February, falling to 5.3 percent from 5.4 percent in January, Iowa Workforce Development announced this morning. The comparable rate for February 2011 was 6 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent.
The strong job gains of 8,700 reported for February reinforced the view that Iowa's economy is turning the corner" said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "February's job gains were also broader in scope, occurring in most industry sectors."
The estimate of unemployed Iowans fell to 88,500 in February from 90,100 in January, and was 11,200 lower than the February 2011 level of 99,700.
The total number of working Iowans dropped slightly to 1,575,900 in February from 1,576,300 in January. However, the current estimate of total employment is 7,500 higher than the year-ago level of 1,568,400.
February's jobs gains were the largest in seven months and the second-largest monthly gain in more than a decade, noted David Osterberg, executive director of the nonprofit Iowa Policy Project.
"While it is important to remind ourselves that these are one-month numbers and are preliminary, these are encouraging signs," Osterberg said. "If we were to keep up something close to the pace of the first two months of 2012, by fall we would erase the gap in jobs lost from the May 2008 peak of about 1.53 million. We are still about 35,000 jobs behind that number."
Compared with February 2011, Iowa has added 17,200 nonfarm jobs. Manufacturing led all sector in job gains, up 11,000. Durable goods manufacturers have added 6,400 jobs, while nondurable goods manufacturers have increased payrolls by 4,600. Construction grew by 4,300 jobs due to increased activity in the sector. Other substantial gains were reflected in education and health services (3,100), and trade and transportation (2,800).
Three sectors posted losses since last year: government (-3,600), professional and business services (-1,800), and information (-800).