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Lee County has Iowa’s highest unemployment rate

Published: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 11:02 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

DES MOINES (MCT) — Lee County continues to have Iowa’s greatest rate of joblessness. In November, 6 percent of the county’s residents were out of work, according to data released Monday.

While it consistently has had one of the state’s higher unemployment rates, the jobless number had been on the decline.

November’s unemployment rate in Lee County is down from 6.4 percent in October, the highest local rate for that month, and 7.5 percent a year ago.

The local unemployment data is from Iowa Workforce Development and is not seasonally adjusted.

The state’s unemployment rate has been following a similar downward trend.

Last week, Workforce Development announced Iowa’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent in November, down from 4.6 percent in October and 4.9 percent a year ago.

In Des Moines County, 5.2 percent of the population was without work; a year ago, that number was 6.0.

In other southeast Iowa counties, unemployment rates were 4.3 percent in Henry County, compared to 5.5 percent a year ago; 4.7 percent in Louisa County, compared to 4.8 a year ago; and 4.6 percent in Van Buren County, compared to 6.0 a year ago.

In November, Lyon County in extreme northwest Iowa had the state’s lowest county unemployment rate at 1.9 percent.

Nearby Sioux County had the second lowest at 2.3 percent. Appanoose County, in south-central Iowa, had the second highest rate at 5.9 percent.

Unemployment rates for Iowa metropolitan areas (not seasonally adjusted):

* The Cedar Rapids metro area’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in November from October at 4.2 percent.

* The Des Moines-West Des Moines unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.1 percent in November, up from 4 percent in October.

* The Iowa City metro area unemployment rate dropped to 2.8 percent in November, down from 3 percent in October.

*The Sioux City metro area also had a slight drop to a 4 percent unemployment rate, down from 4.1 percent last month.

* The Waterloo-Cedar Falls area saw a slight increase to 3.9 percent in November, up from 3.8 percent in October.

As for the state’s cities, Ames had the lowest non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 2.3 percent in November, followed by Iowa City at 2.6 percent. Davenport had the highest city unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, followed by Ottumwa at 5.9 percent.

Benefits extension possible

Meanwhile in Washington, a three-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits is gaining momentum.

The Senate is scheduled to take a key procedural vote on that extension when it returns Jan. 6, and the plan has White House as well as some bipartisan support.

Democrats plan to spend the holidays pushing hard to get an extension. While regular unemployment benefits will continue, emergency aid for 1.3 million long-term jobless will expire Dec. 28.

The cutoff is “particularly poignant and nearly devastating as we go into the Christmas holidays,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters Monday.

Some Republicans agreed. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., are chief sponsors of the three-month extension, which would be retroactive.

“Providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government,” Heller said.

A one-year extension would cost about $25.2 billion, while three months would cost an estimated $6.5 billion, which would not currently be offset with cuts.

The White House is firmly behind the three-month plan. “They should pass it, and I’ll sign it right away,” President Barack Obama told a news conference Friday. Pelosi also said she’d go along with three months.

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©2013 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

MCT Information Services

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