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Carroll County’s unemployment spikes to 8.8%

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The coronavirus’ local punch to supply and demand sent unemployment rates for Carroll and surrounding counties soaring in April, with Carroll County hitting 8.8 percent, the highest jobless rate recorded here since the farm crisis of the 1980s, Iowa Workforce Development reports show.

“We thought we were going to be approaching 5 to 10 percent,” Carroll Mayor Eric Jensen said. “As businesses open up and people get back to work and we get commerce moving, some of those numbers will start to go down.”

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 10.2 percent in April. The state’s jobless rate was 2.7 percent one year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent in April.

Only a year ago, the April 2019 unemployment rate for Carroll County stood at just 1.7 percent, one of the lowest rates in the nation.

And in February of this year, Carroll County posted a 2 percent unemployment rate.

Rates have been consistently around 2 percent for years, leading local economic development leaders to identify workforce and affordable housing and attraction of more people as top priorities.

Jensen said that amid what he termed an “unpredecented pandemic,” he feared the Carroll-area jobless rates would be even higher.

“I’m just glad it’s not 15 percent,” he said. “Hopefully individuals can get back to work soon.”

The jobless rates in area counties jumped to their highest numbers in years with April unemployment figures standing at: Audubon, 6.3 percent; Calhoun, 7.6 percent; Crawford, 8.7 percent; Greene, 10.2 percent; Guthrie, 10.4 percent; Sac, 6.8 percent; and Shelby, 7.8 percent.

“April is the first month we have seen the real impact of the pandemic on our unemployment rate. We remain hopeful that as we reopen the state and more people return to work, the rate will decrease quickly and this unprecedented rate will be a very temporary one,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “The silver lining in this month’s report is that over 1.5 million Iowans remained in the workforce despite the pandemic, and this will do the most to decrease the recovery time.”

The number of unemployed Iowans jumped to 175,300 in April from 56,600 in March. The current estimate is 128,300 higher than the year-ago level of 47,000.

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,536,200 in April. This figure was 129,200 less than March and 144,200 lower than one year ago.

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