WATERLOO — Unemployment in the Cedar Valley has reached its lowest point in nearly 17 years, according to figures compiled by Iowa Workforce Development.
However, the local work force continues to shrink in size.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan statistical area, which includes Black Hawk, Bremer and Grundy counties, recorded a 2.6 percent jobless rate for October. The last time the rate was that low was in November 2000, state Workforce Development officials said. Dating back to 1990, the lowest unemployment rate for the area was 2.2 percent in July 2000.
State officials expect the rate to rise in November and December due to seasonal reductions in construction and manufacturing, depending on the weather.
The October jobless rate also is below the 3.6 percent unemployment rate for the same month a year ago, in October 2016.
However, figures indicate the resident labor force also is smaller, from 91,100 in October 2016 to 88,500 last month. Total employment is down 500 jobs but the number of residents unemployed is down 1,200. In general terms, the workforce can shrink due to retirements or people returning to school, not necessarily people leaving the area.
The area recorded “a mixed bag of gains and losses” over the year, Workforce Development officials said, with losses in trade, transportation and warehousing and retail trade, partially offset by gains in manufacturing and educational and health services.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls jobless rate was below the state rate of 3 percent.
October jobless rates for Northeast Iowa counties, with the October 2016 rates in parentheses, are: Benton, 2.5 (3.1); Black Hawk, 2.8 (4.1); Bremer, 2.0 (3.3), Buchanan, 2.2 (3.4); Butler, 2.3 (3.7); Chickasaw, 2.1 (3.6); Delaware, 1.8 (3.2); Fayette, 2.6 (3.6); Floyd, 2.4 (3.2); Franklin, 1.8 (2.9); Grundy, 2.1 (3.0); Hardin, 2.3 (3.5); Howard, 1.9 (2.9); Mitchell, 1.5 (2.3); Tama, 2.3 (3.4); and Winneshiek, 1.9 (2.5).