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Iowa's Jobless Rate Falls as Corridor Unemployment Rises

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Iowa's unemployment picture was mixed in December with the jobless rate edging higher in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Corridor, but dipping statewide when compared with November.

Cedar Rapids' jobless rate rose to 4.6 percent in December from 4.2 percent in November as 500 fewer residents were employed. In Iowa City, the unemployment rate edged up to 3.1 percent in December from 2.8 percent in November as 300 fewer residents were working.

Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to a post-recession low of 4.2 percent in December from a revised November rate of 4.3 percent, according to Iowa Workforce Development. The comparable rate for December 2012 was 5 percent.

Total nonfarm employment in the Cedar Rapids metropolitan statistical area shed 800 jobs from November, standing at 142,500 jobs. Employment remains 500 above a year ago and 500 above December 2008, just prior to the effects of the recession becoming apparent.

Trade, transportation and warehousing was the only sector showing any positive over-the-month change, adding 300 jobs entirely in retail trade. The sector also has added 1,100 jobs from December 2012, the largest year-over-year gain of any category.

Manufacturing was unchanged from November and stands at 20,700. The sector has added 200 jobs from December 2012, but remains 2,100 below the historical high of 22,800 reported in June 2008.

Nonfarm employment in the Iowa City MSA fell 800 jobs from November, slightly more than the average November-to-December change. Employment stands at 96,600.

Trade, transportation and warehousing was the only sector with an month-to-month gain. Government shed the greatest number of jobs, dropping 500, split between state and local governmen. Leisure and hospitality also slipped 200.

Employment in the Iowa City MSA remains 1,900 above December 2012 primarily due to employment gains in service industries.

The statewide pool of unemployed persons dropped to 70,200 in December, its lowest level for the year. The December estimate was down from 72,100 in November and 81,700 in December 2012.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,602,300 in December from 1,593,300 in November. The current figure is 53,400 higher than a year ago.

Total nonfarm employment in Iowa fell by 2,400 jobs in December, lowering the monthly total to 1,528,500. Iowa Workforce Development said the loss is only the fourth during the calendar year and was primarily due to larger-than-expected declines in seasonal industries.

Local government added 500 jobs, but the public sector posted a loss of 1,700 jobs since December 2012. Private industries in Iowa lost 2,900 jobs in December, but remain up 14,500 jobs from December 2012.

"Iowa made considerable progress toward expanding its labor force in 2013," said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "The state's labor force grew in response to the increase in total employment, which surpassed 1.6 million in December."

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