Iowa employment trends seem to have moderated after earlier signs that Iowa was positively advancing ahead of other states in the slow national economic recovery. According to the Iowa Workforce Development Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 6.8 percent in August, showing little change from the rates reported for the past four months. The August unemployment rate compared with 6.3 percent for the same month one year ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate for August was reported at 9.6 percent, up slightly from 9.5 percent in July.
The Winneshiek County unemployment rate was at 6.1 percent, lower than the state average and from 1-2 percent lower than any adjoining counties. Local Workforce Development officials confirm that hiring patterns seem to be stable.
"The August jobs numbers show that modest improvement has occurred over the past year," said Elisabeth Buck, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "Corporate balance sheets are in much better shape than they were a year ago, making it more likely that hiring will strengthen in the months ahead."
These statistics follow a positive report from last month: "In contrast to the U.S. employment situation, Iowa's private sector hired at a strong enough pace in July to overcome the job losses on the government side," said Buck. Nonfarm jobs in the state have increased in six of the first seven months of 2010, which has managed to keep the recovery intact."
And one local venue is experiencing an employment opportunities boom.
According to Matt Dorsett, Branch Manager of Manpower, Inc., "Manpower is currently experiencing enormous growth. Compared to 2 years ago in Northeast Iowa we have grown by almost 300% and remain somewhat optimistic about future opportunities." He indicates that their office has had unprecedented lists of job openings. (Manpower partners with companies to help them with hiring, recruiting, training, retention as well as other business services.) "We saw growth in many of our branches, although the growth was stronger in the Decorah area than in other areas in both manufacturing and clerical type work."
"We are seeing some companies changing how they work, having a core group of individuals and then using a temporary work force during their busiest times as opposed to having a full time work force that must be laid off seasonally. Temp to hire trends have also increased due to the uncertainty of current markets and worries as to whether growth will continue, allowing their HR departments to focus on employee retention and let Manpower or other staffing companies handle their recruiting, thereby reducing their work load and risk to Workers' Compensation, and Unemployment Compensation, among other things."
But does that mean things are going great in Northeast Iowa? Not necessarily, but there is some hope for optimism. According to Dorsett, the staffing industry has been historically an indicator of future employment growth, typically 6-9 months after staffing companies have increased the number of employees that companies begin to hire as full time staff.
Employers in Iowa expect to hire at a mild pace during the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, roughly paralleling national trends. From October to December, 15% of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while 14% expect to reduce their payrolls. Another 70% expect to maintain their current staff levels and 1% are not certain of their hiring plans. This yields a Net Employment Outlook* of 1%. "Employers expect to significantly slow down the hiring pace compared to Quarter 3, 2010 when the Net Employment Outlook was 19%," said Manpower spokesperson, Sunny Ackerman.
"Clearly there are signs of a softening labor market, but when we consider what we are hearing from our clients and by looking at our own business, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic," said Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres in their most recent Employment Outlook Survey of employers nationwide.