Unemployment Rate Rises in Corridor, Iowa

By George Ford, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - January was not a good month for employment in the Corridor or the state of Iowa with the jobless rate rising from December 2013, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

Cedar Rapids' unemployment rate jumped to 5.6 percent in January from 4.6 percent the previous month. A total of 8,100 people were unemployed in the first month of 2014, up from 6,700 in December.

Total non-farm employment in the Cedar Rapids metropolitan statistical area shed 4,200 jobs from December and stands at 137,400 jobs. Employment is 900 below January 2013 and 1,200 below January 2012.

No sectors reported employment gains from December. However, financial activities (300), leisure (200), and hospitality and other services (100) made small gains from a year ago.

Trade, transportation and warehousing is down 1,200 jobs from December, but unchanged from January 2013. Government shed 1,000 jobs from December 2013.

Manufacturing employment slipped 100 and stands at 20,100. The sector is unchanged from January 2013.

Iowa City's unemployment rate rose to 3.6 percent in January from 3 percent in December 2013. A total of 3,500 people were unemployed in the first month of 2014, up from 2,900 in December 2013.

Non-farm employment in the Iowa City area dropped 2,000 jobs from December 2014, significantly fewer jobs lost from the average December-to-January change over the past eight years. Employment stands at 96,500.

Trade, transportation and warehousing shed 700 jobs from December 2013, leisure and hospitality is down 400 jobs, and government slipped 100. There were no sectors with month-to-month gains.

Employment remains 3,300 above January 2013, largely due to employment gains in government (1,400). Leisure and hospitality added 500 jobs and trade and transportation added 400 jobs.

Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up to 4.3 percent in January from 4.2 percent in December 2013.

The number of unemployed residents increased to 71,700 in January from 71,000 the previous month. The total number of working Iowans rose to 1,606,100 in January from 1,604,800 in December 2013.

Despite a slight increase in the January unemployment rate, Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development, said the state's unemployment conditions have improved substantially from January 2013.

"The state's annual average unemployment rate for 2013 dropped to 4.6 percent from 5.2 percent in 2012," Wahlert said. "Iowa had the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation in 2013."

Iowa non-farm employment decreased by 7,300 jobs in January, lowering the total to 1,536,900. The monthly drop was dominated by larger-than-expected service sector layoffs in trade and transportation.

Local and federal government lost 800 jobs, outweighing employment gains in state government. Non-farm employment has trended higher despite the recent weakness, and is 19,500 jobs, or 1.3 percent, higher than January 2013, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

Professional and business services added the most jobs in January (1,600), partly due to early seasonal hiring in accounting and tax specialty firms. The monthly gain more than offset a slight loss in temporary help services.

Financial activities added 900 jobs to offset smaller losses over the last few months. The sector is 900 jobs higher than a year ago and also at an all-time high.

Retail trade accounted for over half of the jobs lost in January (-4,500), which was largely due to retail stores reducing staffing to pre-holiday levels.

Transportation and warehousing industries also dropped employment (900), reflecting seasonal layoffs of package delivery couriers. The construction sector pared jobs for the second month in a row (-2,600).
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