The coronavirus has sent the nation’s economy into a tailspin, leading to the an unemployment rate not seen since the Great Depression.
The United States posted an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent in April, higher than the 2008-2009 recession when it reached 10 percent, and higher than the recession of 1982 when it was 10.8 percent.
Iowa hasn’t been hit nearly as bad as the rest of the country. Its unemployment rate for April was 10.2 percent, according to Iowa Workforce Development.
The most recent county-level data available is from March. At that time, the unemployment rate for southeast Iowa was not that unusual. For instance, the unemployment rates for Henry, Jefferson and Washington counties were 3.8, 3 and 3.6, respectively. Those figures were higher than they were at the same time in each of the last four years, but still less than half what they were during the Great Recession of 2008. Between that recession and 2015, the unemployment rate for March was consistently above 4 percent for those three southeast Iowa counties. One interesting thing about 2020 was the fairly steep rise in unemployment from one month to the other. Iowa’s unemployment rate was 2.8 percent in February, then jumped nearly a whole percentage point in March when it went to 3.7 percent, before exploding to over 10 percent in April.
Iowa Workforce Development reports that the sector with the most unemployment insurance claims for the week ending May 16 was the manufacturing sector with nearly 4,700 claims. That was followed by self-employed independent contractors, which totaled 1,251, then Health Care and Social Assistance with 1,216, retail trade with 827 and finally accommodation and food services with 785.
The amount of unemployment compensation a worker is entitled to is based on a formula taking into account the worker’s previous salary/wages and the number of their dependents. To learn the details of the formula, visit Iowa Workforce Development’s website at iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov.