Iowa Workforce Development director says national economy part of reason for unemployment rate uptick

DES MOINES — The state unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a point in October, up to 3.2%.

Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend says the national economy is likely playing a role in the increase. “We’ve seen an increase nationally in the unemployment rate, and most states are seeing this similar small increase in their unemployment rates. I think it is an indication that the national economic pressures and ongoing efforts to fight inflation by the feds are having an impact on employment,” according to Townsend.

She says those national pressures can make Iowa businesses hesitant to add more jobs. “We are certainly seeing some industries cutting back or maybe not hiring or not refilling open positions is what I think we’re seeing,” she says. The unemployment rate has inched up slightly in the last three months.

Townsend says she’s more concerned about the labor force participation rate — which decreased from 68.6% to 68.4% October. “We’re usually in the top five in terms of states in the country, and labor force participation rates. So you know, as long as that rate stays higher,” she says. “There are states that have lower unemployment, but they also have labor force participation rates that are in, you know the 50s. So when you don’t have as many people in your workforce, it’s a little bit easier to have a lower rate. Right?”

Townsend says those who lose a job are not waiting long to find another. “We have the lowest duration of people on unemployment benefits than we’ve had since 1967. And it’s less than 10 weeks,” Townsend says. “So that tells you that people who are becoming unemployed are securing new jobs at a rate that’s much, much faster than we’ve seen in almost 50 years.” Townsend says that have around 65,000 jobs available in the state right now on their website.

She encourages anyone who is looking for a job to contact Workforce Development.