Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
Unemployment down for state, up for region
WASHINGTON — Data from Iowa Workforce Development show the Hawkeye State’s unemployment rate at 3% in January, down from 3.1% in December, a shift that represents 1,200 fewer unemployed residents. Overall labor force participation fell slightly from 68.2% to 68.1 between the two months, but stayed “near the highest level Iowa has seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a state news release.
The news release said job growth was especially pronounced in construction, manufacturing and health care or social assistance, between the two months. The total number of working Iowans decreased by 500 from month to month, but remained 10,800 above levels January of 2022.
Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said people were rejoining the labor force as employment counts rose.
“Iowa has worked hard over the last year to make it easier to connect Iowans with open jobs, including adding one-on-one assistance through our Re-employment Case Management program from the first week of unemployment,” she said in a news release. “Decreasing the amount of time between jobs helps working Iowans and our employers who are looking for hardworking new employees. This is the engine that helps fuel our economy.”
Data for Southeast Iowa, however, paints a different picture. Unemployment rates in Washington, Jefferson and Henry counties were all up from December, despite staying below or only slightly higher than in January of 2022.
In Washington County, numbers show unemployment going from 2.7% to 3.6% from December to January. The data said the county’s employed population of 11,400 was unchanged, but that 100 new people were added to the eligible labor force, sending the number of unemployed residents from 300 to 400.
Elsewhere in Southeast Iowa, unemployment rose because employed populations shrank faster than also-declining total workforce populations.
Jefferson County’s unemployment went from 2.4% to 3.0%, as employment declined by 100 people while labor force dropped by only 30. Henry County saw an exaggerated version of the same trend, with unemployment climbing from 3.2% to 3.5%, thanks to employment and total workforce counts waning by 240 and 210, respectively.