New numbers released this week from the Iowa Workforce Development show that the unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in December (the latest month for which there are records). November’s unemployment rate had been at 6.6%. The raw number of unemployed in December was 106,500. The current national unemployment rate is at 9.4%. Iowa is better situated than some other states, but the unemployment rate is still higher than pre-recession rates. For instance, Iowa’s rate just three years ago was at 3.7%.
The 6.3% is a statewide number, but not all counties have been affected equally. Allamakee and Lee counties are the ones that have been hardest hit by unemployment with each county being at 9.5% and 10.1%, respectively. The far northwestern counties of Lyon and Sioux have the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 3.4% and 3.7%.
The slight reduction in the unemployment rate is a good sign, but the state will need a much more robust movement if Governor Branstad’s proposal of 200,000 new jobs over the next five years is going to be met.