DES MOINES — Iowa’s unemployment rate increased slightly in August, the first uptick in several months. Iowa Workforce Development executive director Beth Townsend says conditions on the national level factor in.
“It looks like the national economy is having an impact in Iowa a little bit more than we’d like to see,” she says. “You know, we’re not immune to the inflation and the rising gas prices and things of that nature. And so we saw an uptick.” Iowa’s unemployment rate rose from 2.7% in July to 2.9% in August, while that national rate increased from 3.5% to 3.8%.
She says those national economic factors can impact the decisions of Iowa businesses. “It could be some employers are cutting back on staff, maybe their business is being impacted even in a small way. You know, even if employers are only shedding a few jobs individually that can cumulatively add up, I mean, two-tenths of a point, we’re not talking a significant number here,” Townsend says.
Townsend says there were gains in some areas. “Employers actually added 2,400 jobs in August, and that was after three months of job losses. So that was a good, a good sign. And those were primarily in leisure and hospitality, I believe. And then education and health services,” she says.
Townsend says Iowa’s job market remains very strong. “One of the numbers that I think is important to remember is that the average duration of unemployment remains historically low,” Townsend says. “So for the month of August, it was nine-point-seven weeks. So people, even at once they become unemployed are finding jobs in the fastest amount of time that we’ve seen since 1967. Or in the shortest amount of time, since we’ve seen since that 67.”
Some critics says the jobs people are getting are not paying enough for them to live on. Townsend says there are good wages being paid in a lot of areas. “I would dispute that the jobs that are available are not good jobs. That’s that’s actually not true. I mean, there are really good jobs available,” Townsend says. “And the people who are getting jobs quicker are getting good jobs. They’re not just taking jobs that are low paying or entry level they’re finding career opportunities.”
Townsend says for example, health care and social assistance jobs are starting at 20 to 25 dollars an hour. And manufacturing saw an increase of 600 jobs with pay in those jobs starting well above $15 an hour.