Cedar Rapids, Iowa City Post Big May Job Gains
CEDAR RAPIDS - Corridor communities posted big job gains in May, helping push the unemployment rate in the Cedar Rapids area down to levels not seen since 2008.
The Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area added 2,100 jobs from April to May. The strongest employment sector was trade, transportation and warehousing, which added 600 jobs. Most of the jobs were in retail stores, according to Iowa Workforce Development data released this week.
The Iowa City MSA added 2,100 jobs from April levels, nearly all of them in service-producing industries. Employment is now 900 jobs above the May 2011 level.
The additional jobs pushed the Cedar Rapids MSA unemployment rate down to 5.1 percent from April's 5.2 percent. It was the lowest rate since 2008, and the number of jobs was within 600 jobs of recovering to year-ago levels.
The main sectors lagging year-ago employment levels in the Cedar Rapids MSA were manufacturing and local government, which were both 500 lower. Food manufacturing and retail trade are both 100 jobs lower.
Most Iowa metros gained jobs in May, however employment fell by 900 in Ames due to the seasonal reduction of 1,000 jobs in education employment. Dubuque had a relatively modest gain of 100 jobs.
The statewide unemployment rate for May was 5.1 percent, while the United States unemployment rate was at 8.2 percent.
Separately, an Urban Institute study predicted overall job growth will be slow across the board through 2017, although one group hit hardest by the recession — workers with low educational levels — will have a slightly easier time finding work.
The study said high school grads and job seekers with some college experience (middle-skilled workers) will have the best prospects in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and health services. College graduates and those with advanced degrees (high-skilled workers) will have the best prospects in professional and business services, health services, and government.
The report said jobs requiring a college degree or more will grow slightly faster than average over the next five years.
The unemployment rate in the Iowa City MSA remained at 3.4 percent.
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