Unemployment rate drops in May
DES MOINES — Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped for the third consecutive month in May, falling to 4.6 percent.
The current rate is down from 4.7 percent in April, and 5.3 percent in May 2012. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in May from 7.5 percent in April.
“The Iowa job market picked up momentum in May, as businesses added more jobs than anticipated,” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa’s nonfarm jobs grew by 5,300 in May, the largest monthly total reported so far this year.”
The statewide estimate of unemployed persons fell to 76,800 in May from 77,600 in April. The year ago count of unemployed was 10,400 higher at 87,200.
Total employment also rose to its highest level for the year, increasing to 1,576,800 in May. This figure was up from 1,571,000 in April and 1,553,700 one year ago.
Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment
Total nonfarm employment increased to 1,523,900 in May, 5,300 higher than in April.
The month’s gain is a continuation of the upward trend that has been evident for most of 2013. March was the only exception when a decline of 4,700 jobs was reported.
Total nonfarm employment now rests just 4,100 jobs below the all-time high of 1,528,000, which was achieved in three different months of 2008.
Professional and business services added 3,000 jobs in May, leading all sectors in job growth. The gain followed two months of declines and helped put this sector back into positive territory compared to one year ago (+3,200).
Growth in the industry was primarily fueled by administrative and support services, which was up 1,800.
Construction rebounded in May with an increase of 2,200. This sector is expected to grow through the remainder of the year due to the rising demand for new, single-family housing and the larger number of commercial and industrial projects that are on the horizon.
Trade and transportation had the third-largest gain for the month, advancing by 1,400. Within this sector, growth in wholesale trade and transportation more than offset a loss of 1,000 in retail trade. Financial activities added 1,000 jobs this month, bringing this year’s total to 2,900 jobs.
Losses in May were light and were led by leisure and hospitality (-1,000), followed by education and health services (-700) and other services (-500).
Compared to last year, total nonfarm employment is up 18,200 jobs (+1.2 percent).
Despite a recent softening, manufacturing has continued to fuel a large portion of the yearly gains (+5,900).
Growth in finance has accelerated, and is up 3,800 jobs over the year.
Other large gains from one year ago include: trade and transportation (+3,500), professional and business services (+3,200) and education and health (+2,600).
The only sector to post losses since last May are other services (-1,500) and information (-400).
Jefferson County employment
Unemployment in Jefferson County declined from 5.4 percent in April to 5.3 percent in May.
According to Iowa Workforce Development figures, in April, Jefferson County had a labor force of 7,780, with 7,3d0 employed and 420 unemployed. In May, the county had a labor force of 7,690, with 7,280 employed and 410 unemployed.
The Iowa Workforce Development figures show a decrease in unemployment in Van Buren County from 5.9 percent in April to 5.9 percent in May. In April, Van Buren County had a labor force of 3,670, with 3,450 employed and 220 unemployed. In May, the county had a labor force of 3,650, with 3,450 employed and 200 unemployed.
In nearby Henry County, the unemployment rate remained steady at 5.2 percent in April and May.
In Washington County, the rate decreased from 3.4 percent in April to 3.3 percent in May.
Lyon County had the lowest unemployment rate in May at 2.3 percent. Lee County had the highest unemployment rate in May with 6.6 percent.
The county employment numbers are not seasonally adjusted.