Capital Clicks

Jobless rate for March reflects the earliest stage of pandemic’s impact

By: - April 17, 2020 10:57 am

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The number of unemployed Iowans increased more than 28% in March, from 49,300 to 63,500, state officials reported Friday.

Iowa’s unemployment rate was 3.7% in March, an increase of 1 full percentage point over the same period a year ago. The national unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in March.

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend noted that the unemployment data for March “only reflects the very beginning of the impact” of the unprecedented loss of jobs triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The jobless rate for the month of April will be more indicative of the current jobless situation, Townsend said.

Workers filed 43,862 initial unemployment claims in Iowa during the second week of April, which was a drop of 23,472 from the week before. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of new unemployment claims in Iowa had ranged between 2,000 and 5,000 a week.

Over the past 12 months, Iowa has lost 7,100 jobs.

Townsend noted that there were 1.67 million Iowans who were still employed last month. “There are dozens of employers looking for workers now,” she said, adding that Iowans who are currently unemployed can see the opportunities available at

The total number of non-farm jobs in Iowa dropped by 3,500 in March. Jobs in the accommodation and food-service industry dropped by 1,600 in March.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.