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Iowa Unemployment Reaches 20-Year High PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 13 March 2009 16:06

The number of unemployed people in Iowa increased to 80,600 in January, surpassing the 80,000 mark for the first time since September 1987, Iowa Workforce Development announced this week. That's up from 73,700 in December, and 64,900 a year ago.

Elisabeth Buck"Jobless claims remain very elevated, and continue to point to large payroll losses," said Elisabeth Buck, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "The major share of Iowa's job losses since January 2008 occurred during the final four months of the year."

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 4.8 percent in January, up from December's revised rate of 4.4 percent and last year's rate of 3.9 percent. The total number of working Iowans dropped to 1,592,100 in January from 1,602,900 in December.

Iowa's situation was still better than things nationally. The U.S. jobless rate rose to 7.6 percent in January from 7.2 percent in December. This was the highest national unemployment rate since the fall of 1992, when 11.6 million people were out of work.

"Today's announcement only fuels the need for our state's leaders to move quickly on putting federal recovery money to work in our state," said Iowa Policy Project Executive Director David Osterberg. "As more hard-pressed working families need services from the state in such a serious economic crunch, we need to make sure we're giving those stimulus funds from the federal government a chance to do what they're supposed to do: pick up our economy, and meet Iowans' needs."

After the unemployment report, the Iowa House gave final legislative approval to a bill modernizing unemployment-insurance practices in the state by a vote of 84-13. With the Senate having already passed an identical version of the bill, Governor's Chet Culver's signature would effectively guarantee $71 million in federal stimulus money for the state's unemployment-insurance program.