Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 4.8 percent in July from 4.6 percent in June, according to Iowa Workforce Development.
The statewide estimate of unemployed persons increased to 79,300 in July from 76,300 in June. Despite the increase, the number of people without jobs was less than the 89,300 in July 2012, and the unemployment rate was below the 5.5 percent reported for the same month.
Total employment dropped for the first time this year, falling to 1,573,200 in July from 1,577,200 in June. The current figure is 25,000 higher than in July 2012.
Total non-farm employment rose for the fourth consecutive month in July, adding 5,000 jobs.
“Despite this month’s increase in the unemployment rate, non-farm employment continued to advance at a healthy pace.” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Non-farm jobs have increased by 5,000 or more for the past three months.”
While that’s encouraging, Heather Gibney of the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City said it’s also important to understand that Iowa has a continuing jobs deficit.
“We are two and a half years into the five-year window Governor Branstad set for his goal of 200,000 new jobs, so Iowans might be looking at how far we are from that number today, and we are well off the pace of what is needed to reach that target,” Gibney said. “We think there’s a better way to gauge our progress, and we should use the start of the recession, not a governor’s term, as the baseline.
“The Economic Policy Institute has come up with a sensible measure: jobs added, plus jobs needed to keep up with population growth. On that score, we’re about 52,000 down.
“So, there is a real jobs deficit; it’s not tied to political terms but to the economy.”
Iowa’s service and goods-producing sectors added jobs last month, although the goods-producing industries were slightly hampered by a drop of 600 jobs in manufacturing.
Government added 2,300 jobs in July with 2,100 of the majority concentrated in local government and education.
Construction added 1,600 jobs in July, leading all sectors in job growth. It marked the third straight gain for the industry following a modest start to the year.
Construction is expected to continue adding jobs due to a rise in demand for commercial and industrial buildings and the pickup in new residential housing. Trade and transportation added 1,000 jobs, fueled by stronger-than-expected hiring in the retail sector.
Job losses were light last month, led by manufacturing — a drop of 600 — which has experienced a weaker hiring pattern in recent months. Other services decreased by 200 jobs, and financial activities trimmed 100 jobs due to cutbacks in rental and leasing.
The jobless rates for Iowa cities and counties will be released later this week.