The Iowa unemployment rate decreased to 2.8 percent in December 2017, and it continues to be below the U.S. unemployment rate.

On Tuesday (Jan. 23, 2018), the Iowa WorkForce Development office released some interesting employment data for December 2017. A year ago the state's jobless rate was 3.5 percent, but it has now fallen to 2.8 percent. In comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent.

"Iowa businesses finished 2017 strong, bolstering payrolls by 7,100 jobs in December. Iowa factories have added 11,700 jobs in 2017," said Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development Director.

"With an unemployment rate at 2.8%, Iowa must address the shortage in skilled workers," added Townsend. "It will take all hands on deck to sustain this economic growth including support from our partners in K-12, community colleges, universities, business and industry, economic developers and non-profits - all of whom participated in writing the Future Ready Iowa strategic plan. The plan will put Iowa in a position to create and sustain the skilled workforce we need now and in the future."

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 47,000 in December. The current estimate is 12,000 lower than the year ago level of 59,000.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,637,800 in December. This figure was 200 higher than November and 3,200 higher than one year ago.

Annually, the state of Iowa has gained 28,300 jobs. Manufacturing leads the way in jobs added with 11,700 over the last twelve months. Growth for this sector began in May with 12,400 jobs being added over the past eight months. Education and healthcare has gained 6,900 jobs annually, followed by leisure and hospitality, up 6,600 jobs. Sector losses have been strongest in construction (-7,500) in the wake of a booming 2016. Smaller losses occurred in other services (-1,600) and information (-700).

Contributed By: Cory Kelly of Iowa WorkForce Development