Unemployment dips slightly as students go back to school

DES MOINES — The state unemployment rate inched up one-tenth of a percent in August — the first increase in seven months.

Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend says the increase is mostly tied to students. “That is almost, not entirely, but almost entirely related to individuals going back to school and leaving their jobs,” she says. The increase still leaves the unemployment rate at two-point-six percent and in the range of pre-pandemic levels.

“We gained 3,800 jobs in August — and that puts us within 5,500 jobs of making a full recovery from the number of jobs we had pre-pandemic,” Townsend says. “So in other words, we’ve gained almost 97 percent of the jobs back that we had lost as a result of the pandemic. And that’s a really good sign.”

Townsend says manufacturing continues to chug along and add jobs despite all the economic turmoil. “This is several months that we’ve seen a positive move in manufacturing, we added 700 jobs in August, they’ve added seven-thousand jobs in the past few months with growth throughout 2022,” according to Townsend. “And when you think about what’s going on in the national economy with inflation and supply chain issues, the fact that we continue to grow in advanced manufacturing is a really good, good sign for Iowa’s economy.”

Townsend says it is likely the unemployment rate will rebound in September. “We traditionally see in September, people who go back to work because school started — so you’ve got people leaving the workforce in August going back to school — but you have teachers, bus drivers, janitorial staff cooks returning to work ….. in late August, early September. So, you know, hopefully, in September, we’ll be back to trending down again,” Townsend says.

Townsend says there are more than 80,000 open jobs in Iowa and they continue to work hard to fill those jobs. And she says there are almost 40,000 people who are unemployed but not receiving an employment benefit. She says they are trying to help anybody who was looking for and wants a job to find one.