Unemployment rate shows no impact in March from flooding

DES MOINES — The state unemployment rate remained unchanged once again in March, and has now been at the historically low 2.4% level since October.

Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Donna Burkett, says the major disaster issues that hit in March didn’t influence the numbers.
“Right now we’re seeing no impact from the flooding,” Burkett says. She says the lack of flood impact on the unemployment rate could be attributed to several factors — including that the flooding came late in the month, after the week of the 12th when they gather the unemployment data.

“We know that it was largely in rural areas. Those areas may or may not have been part of the sample. And then, those people may still be receiving pay,” Burkett explains. “They could be receiving pay through their current and primary employer…and they could also still have a secondary job and they are still being paid.” There were some areas that lost jobs in the month.

Burkett says manufacturing has gotten off to a slow start this year, including no gains in January and those jobs were down around one-thousand this month. The construction industry has been off to a slow start, and also lost some jobs in March. She says construction lost close to 1,000 jobs, and that could be because of the bad weather in the month.

Burkett says they should learn more about the flooding impact when the April job numbers come out. She says there’s also a possibility that the flood repairs could have some impact on the construction industry. The leisure and hospitality industry rebounded from declines in February to add one-thousand jobs in March.

Overall though, the total number of working Iowans was 5,400 higher than February. And Burkett says Iowa is still one of the states with the lowest unemployment in the country,  tied for third lowest unemployment this month. The unemployment rate was 2.7% one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.8% in March.