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Iowa’s employment level drops for the first time in nearly a year

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(The Center Square) – The number of employed Iowa residents dropped for the first time since May 2023, according to statistics from Iowa Workforce Development.

The unemployment rate dropping from 2.9% in March to 2.8% in April, but the number of employed residents also declined from 48,700 in March to 47,200 in April.

“The unemployment rate falling with the labor force participation rate suggests some unemployed individuals have quit looking for work and dropped out of the workforce, causing the percentage of the workforce that remains unemployed to fall,” according to the Common Sense Institute of Iowa in an analysis.

One year ago, 19,300 more Iowa residents were in the workforce, according to IWD statistics. From March to April, the number of working Iowans dropped by 1,300 to 1,646,900.

April’s overall job loss is 900, driven by the construction industry which lost 3,100 jobs, according to the statistics.

“The decline in construction jobs could be an early indicator of a cooldown in the real estate market,” according to the CSI Iowa report.

The professional and business services sector lost 600 jobs in April, followed by financial activities, which declined 300 jobs, and manufacturing, which lost 100 jobs.

Five sectors saw an uptick in jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector and “other services” added 1,000 jobs each. The leisure and hospitality sector has gained the most jobs of any industry over the past twelve months with 5,900 additions, according to IWD.

Six hundred jobs were added to the trade, transportation and utilities sector while the government sector expanded by 300, and the education and health services industry added the same amount.

Beth Townsend, IWD’s executive director, is optimistic about the numbers.

“April’s report shows signs of easing across the Iowa economy, with several industries inching back from huge hiring sprees earlier in the year,” Townsend said in a statement. “Many industries remain at or near historic highs for employment despite Iowa’s aging workforce. Last month was the tenth month during the past year where Iowans voluntarily left the workforce, possibly to retire or go back to school. With IowaWORKS continuing to list more than 56,000 open jobs, we see plenty of opportunities available for those Iowans who want to work.”

Iowa’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in the nation, tied for eighth overall with Kansas and Mississippi, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. North Dakota and South Dakota are tied for the lowest unemployment rate at 2%.

The U.S. unemployment rate for April is 3.9%.

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