DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa’s unemployment rate increased slightly to 3.9 percent from 3.8 percent in April.  The state’s jobless rate was 8.3 percent one year ago.  Iowa’s labor force participation rate increased from 66.1 percent in April to 66.4 percent in May as the total number of working Iowans increased to 1,584,000 in May.  The number of unemployed Iowans and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly by 1,300 and 0.1 percent respectively.  The U.S. unemployment rate decreased to 5.8 percent in May.

“The positive takeaways from May’s monthly job report are that the number of Iowans in the workforce increased by 6,300; the number of Iowans working increased by 5,000 and claims numbers in May were down significantly from the previous month,” sBeth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development, said.  “While the number of unemployed Iowans ticked up slightly, the overall trend is positive for Iowa as we see more and more Iowans returning to the workforce.”

This figure was 5,000 higher than April’s number of 1,579,000 and 60,900 higher than May 2020. The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 63,500 in May from 62,200 in April.  The current estimate is 1,300 higher than last month and 74,300 lower than a year ago. The labor force participation rate has gradually increased every month this year.

Iowa recently ended its participation in the federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs that went into effect on June 12, which should be reflected in June’s report released sometime in July.

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Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Total nonfarm employment in Iowa increased slightly in May, adding 800 jobs compared to April and lifting the jobs total to 1,518,400. Combined, private industries were little changed this month and goods-producing industries returned mixed results with hiring in manufacturing being offset by a decline in construction and mining, logging, and natural resources. Government continues to trend up with gains in the federal, state, and local levels in May. This gain marks the fifth consecutive monthly increase for government which is now up 15,200 jobs versus this time one year ago. Private industries have pared jobs in three of the last four months but did experience a recent high in March. Overall, private industries have added 82,000 jobs compared to last May.

Professional and business services added the most jobs this month (+1,300). This increase follows a drop of 1,400 in April. Administrative support and waste management gained 600 and professional, scientific, and technical services added 800 jobs. Leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in May with 800 jobs added. The hiring was evenly split between both arts, entertainment, and recreation along with accommodations and food services. Manufacturing added 800 jobs in the durable goods sector. This month’s increase is the third consecutive with 3,200 jobs added since February. On the other hand, nondurable goods industries have shed 1,000 jobs during that same span. Trade and transportation shed the most jobs of any super sector in May (-1,400). Most of this loss stemmed from retail trade (-1,000).

WASHINGTON — The number of claims for unemployment benefits fell last week for a fifth straight week to a new pandemic low, the latest evidence that the U.S. job market is regaining its health as the economy further reopens.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims dropped to 385,000, down 20,000 from the week before. The number of weekly applications for unemployment aid, which generally reflects the pace of layoffs, has fallen steadily all year, though it remains high by historical standards.

The decline in applications reflects a swift rebound in economic growth and the job market’s steady recovery from the coronavirus recession. More Americans are venturing out to shop, travel, dine out and congregate at entertainment venues. All that renewed spending has led companies to seek new workers.

In Maine, initial claims for state and federal jobless benefits increased to 1,500 last week from 1,200 the previous week. Initial state claims had reached a pandemic low of about 1,000 claims during the week ending May 22.

Continuing weekly claims continued to decline in Maine, falling by about 1,600 claims to to 39,000 last week.

Employers have added 1.8 million jobs this year – an average of more than 450,000 a month – and the government’s May jobs report on Friday is expected to show that they added an additional 656,000 last month, according to a survey of economists by the data firm FactSet. The economy remains down 8.2 million jobs from its level in February 2020, just before the virus tore through the economy.

AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, noted that the number of people who are collecting traditional state unemployment benefits rose by 169,000 in the week of May 22 to nearly 3.8 million.

“Reviving a labor market after a deadly pandemic is complicated,” she said. “Not all indicators move at the same speed or take the same recovery path. Hopefully, the COVID-19 cases continue to decline as the number of fully vaccinated individuals rises. Fully returning to pre-COVID normal is essential to a full labor market recovery.”

In the meantime, U.S. employers are posting a record number of available jobs. And many of them have complained that they can’t find enough workers to meet rising customer demand.

Job growth slowed sharply in April compared compared with March, a pullback that was widely attributed to a labor shortage in some industries, especially at restaurants and other employers in the hospitality sector.

At least 25 states have responded by announcing plans to cut off some emergency federal aid to the unemployed – including a $300-a-week federal benefit – as early as next week. Critics argue that the extra federal unemployment aid, on top of regular state jobless benefits, discourages some of the jobless from seeking work.

Weekly applications for unemployment aid, which topped 900,000 in early January, have fallen steadily all year, though they remain high by historical standards: Before COVID-19 all but paralyzed the economy in March 2020, claims were regularly coming in

(The Center Square) – Virginia’s unemployment rate went down slightly in March, but its recovery has been slightly below average, according to a WalletHub report.

Unemployment decreased by 0.1 percentage points in March and now rests at 5.1%. Last month’s number is 6.2% lower than its pandemic-era height, which was 11.3%. Unemployment in the commonwealth is still below the national rate, which was 6% in March.

“Virginia’s unemployment rate is steadily improving and we are making real progress in safely reopening our economy,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “While we have made great strides in our recovery, we know there is still more work to do. We will continue to focus our efforts bringing more Virginians into the workforce and supporting families, businesses, and communities with the resources they need to build back stronger.”

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 800 jobs in the month and the labor force increased by 1,618 people. The number of employed residents rose by 6,669 and the number of unemployed residents went down by 5,051. Over the year, jobs are still down 4.4%, primarily from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic restrictions.

Every major sector still saw over-the-year job losses with leisure and hospitality being hit the hardest. That industry lost 76,600 jobs, which is an 18.8% decrease. The second largest job loss was in government, which lost 36,800 jobs, a 5% decrease.

Although the commonwealth loosened many of the COVID-19 restrictions, the ones that remain have hurt certain industries, particularly, leisure, hospitality, restaurants and bars. The state still maintains a mask mandate, event gathering restrictions, a midnight curfew for dining in and a requirement that tables at bars and restaurants be six feet apart.

“Virginia’s workers and businesses have faced many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resolve and perseverance has helped overcome them,” Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy said in a statement. “The growing rate of vaccinations gives us confidence that this downward trend will continue in the months ahead. We will keep working diligently to assist Virginians with job training programs and help them gain employment in a changing, post-pandemic job market.”

The commonwealth ranks below average in its unemployment recovery, according to a report released by WalletHub. Virginia ranked 30th in its overall unemployment recovery.

According to the report, Virginia’s unemployment rate increased by 68.4% since March 2019 and increased 76.8% since March 2020. It went up 77% from January 2020.

The states with the best unemployment recoveries were Nebraska, Utah, South Dakota and Alabama. The worst unemployment recoveries were Hawaii, New York, Connecticut and California.

Members of the business community have said looser restrictions and more vaccinations will improve these numbers. They have also urged the state to use federal money to offset losses to the unemployment insurance fund to prevent a potential tax hike on businesses that could add additional burdens as businesses try to recover from pandemic losses.