Iowa Unemployment Rate Holds in February

By George Ford, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Iowa's unemployment rate was unchanged in February, but fell in Linn and Johnson counties when compared with January.

Iowa Workforce Development on Friday reported Iowa's adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent in February even as more workers entered the labor force. The February jobless rate compared favorably with 5.4 percent in February 2012.

The number of unemployed Iowans rose slightly to 82,600 in February from 81,600 in January, but was 6,700 lower than the 89,300 without jobs in February 2012. The total number of working Iowans picked up momentum, increasing to 1,554,800 in February from 1,548,900 in January.

"Iowa's labor force and total employment numbers increased in February, a sign that more individuals are participating in the statewide labor market," said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "The state's labor force participation rate nudged up to 68.3 percent in February from 68 percent in January."

Manufacturing increased by 900 jobs in February, leading all sectors in job growth. February marked the fifth consecutive gain for the industry, and is due entirely to growth in durable goods factories.

Within the goods-producing sectors, construction also added 700 jobs during the month. Leisure and hospitality generated the most jobs in the service-providing sectors, posting a gain of 700.

The Cedar Rapids non-seasonally adjusted metropolitan statistical area (MSA) unemployment rate eased down to 5.7 percent in February from 6.3 percent in January. Last month's jobless rate also compared favorably with the 6.1 percent rate reported in February 2012.

Total non-farm employment in the Cedar Rapids MSA added 1,600 jobs from January, and stands at 139,800 jobs, a gain of 1,400 from a year ago.

The majority of the job gains occurred in government and were seasonal in nature. Educational and health services added 400 jobs, manufacturing added 200 jobs and other services added 100 jobs.

On the other hand, trade, transportation and warehousing shed 300 jobs and natural resources and construction dropped 100. Both of these job reductions were seasonally motivated.

The Iowa City MSA unemployment rate ticked down to 3.7 percent in February from 4.1 percent in January. Last month's rate also compared favorably with 4.2 percent in February 2012.

Non-farm employment in the Iowa City MSA gained 2,000 jobs from last month. The job gains were split among government, goods-producing and private service -providing industries. Government added 1,300 jobs as a result of the return from the educational holiday break. Retail trade shed 100 jobs.

Employment remains 1,700 above a year ago. No industries have shed jobs from a year ago, although leisure and hospitality remains unchanged. Government has added 600 jobs and an additional 400 jobs were added in each, professional and business services and trade, transportation and warehousing.
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