Iowa businesses added 4,500 jobs in October, more than half of which were in the leisure and hospitality sector, Iowa Workforce Development reported today.

In October, Iowa’s total nonfarm employment was 1,584,600, according to the department. The total number of jobs in the state is 900 more than in March 2020 when the pandemic began and thousands of Iowans became unemployed because of the economic shutdown.

“Strong hiring across the state, including in October, has helped Iowa regain a total of 170,700 jobs — overcoming the 169,800 jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic,” Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development director, said in a prepared statement.

In October, the leisure and hospitality sector had 147,200 jobs, up from the 144,900 reported in September, according to the state agency. In addition, the education and health services sector had 228,300 jobs, 1,000 more than in September; and manufacturing, financial activities and trade, transportation and utilities sectors added 500 jobs each.

Numerous companies continue to seek workers. The state’s website, IowaWorks, currently lists over 83,000 job openings, up from September when 82,000 jobs were listed.

The total number of unemployed Iowans increased to 49,700 in October but remains 16,600 lower than a year ago.  

Iowa’s unemployment rate was 2.9% in October, up slightly from September when it was 2.7%, the state agency reported. The state’s labor force participation rate remained at 67.7%.

The U.S. unemployment rate in October was 3.7%; the labor force participation rate was 62.2%.