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State unemployment rate increases in July

(Radio Iowa) – After four months of either dropping or holding steady, the state unemployment rate inched up slightly in July to 4.8-percent. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, says the increase from the 4.6-percent rate of June doesn’t tell the whole story.

“We still saw job growth though, we still added 5,000 jobs across the state in non-farm. So, our uptick in unemployment comes form some increased in layoffs — predominantly in the manufacturing industry — and then a slight decrease in the overall size of the labor force,” Koonce explains. “When you couple those two together, that’s how come you’ve got the increase in the unemployment rate.”

Koonce says the construction sector led all areas, with an increase of 1,600 jobs in July. “Which is very good, because at the start of the year we didn’t see construction rise as much as we normally do,” Koonce says. “But now we are seeing it being very strong going through summer here.”

She says the one month increase in the unemployment rate doesn’t signal a change in the economy that has been steadily improving. “Because the key is to be adding jobs into the economy so that people have options to be applying for and those that are looking for work. So, overall we would say that it’s still positive. We would need a quarter of continuing increase in the unemployment rate to really be concerned there,” Koonce says.

Kids are going back to high school and college this month, but Koonce says those part-time summer jobs they may’ve held are not figured into the ongoing unemployment rate. Koonce says those jobs are adjusted out as seasonal jobs, but she says those who have been working in their hometown often pick up jobs in the town where they go to college too, so there is some transferring of jobs.

The July rate was well below the 5.5-percent rate of one year ago. For the first time in awhile, the national unemployment rate dropped, while the Iowa rate went up. But the national unemployment rate of 7.4-percent in July was still well above the Iowa rate.