Seasonal changes lead to slight increase in unemployment for September

DES MOINES — Iowa’s unemployment rate inched to 3% in September from 2.9% in August, while the labor participation rate dropped by one-tenth of a percent.

Iowa Workforce Development spokesman Jesse Dougherty says the slight change is seasonal. He says the primary reason for the change is college students who left the workforce to go back to school. Dougherty says they are the same workers that made an impact on employment earlier in the year. “Iowa did have an influx of new hiring in the spring, particularly in leisure and hospitality, and arts, entertainment, and recreation, a lot of those industries, you’d expect to see a lot of hiring,” he says. “And so we think that’s reflective of the fact that employers were, you know, pulling from a lot of that younger population to help fill jobs. But now that we’re heading back into the fall, we’re seeing that kind of drop off with those students leaving those jobs and headed back into the classroom.”

He says some of the students will get part-time jobs while at college, but many won’t be in the workforce again until school is out. Dougherty says some areas saw job increases. “Construction led all industries in September with 1,800 jobs added, that was definitely a good sign, as it showed more employers are either hiring or extending their projects to get to get more done, while the weather has still been good in the state,” he says. “Our largest industry, manufacturing didn’t have a large gain, but it did add 200 jobs, so that was positive.”

He says the national economy continues to cause apprehension in some other industries, with banking and finance, losing 800 jobs and professional business services lost 1,000. Dougherty says those industries try to keep a good handle on costs. “Some of that belt tightening that employers might do, to cut back on things that really happens a lot within professional business services because of those extraneous services to buildings and things like that. And, and, of course, leisure and hospitality as well,” he says.

He says businesses are also keeping an eye on increases in the cost of materials. Mortgage rates recently went up, and that’s another issue that can have an impact on businesses. “The mortgage demand I think, has fallen to the lowest level since 1995. And so, we are seeing some apprehension from some employers in this in those types of industries. And so what we’re really focused on in the face of those national headwinds is our focus is really having the most responsive reemployment system as we possibly can,” Dougherty says.

The uptick in the unemployment rate still leaves it below the 3.1% rate from last September. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.8% in September.