The number of unemployed people in Mahaska and Marion counties were up in January from both the prior month and prior year.

According to new data from Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa gained 3,000 jobs during the month of January and the number of Iowans unemployed statewide decreased.

Those trends weren’t repeated locally, however.

The new data show in January there were 460 Mahaska County citizens unemployed and 610 unemployed in Marion County. Both figures were higher than the counties had recorded in December 2020 and the prior year.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Marion County was 3.5% and was 4% in Mahaska County. Across Iowa, the rate decreased from December’s 3.7% to 3.5%.

Even with the increase in jobless locally, the numbers pale in comparison to what was seen at the heights of the pandemic-shutdown in the spring and summer. Mahaska County’s unemployed peaked at 1,180 in April 2020 and Marion County’s number peaked at 1,550 that month.

Across Iowa, most of the new jobs were in construction, which added one-third of the 3,000 new jobs reported in January. Retail trade continued to produce the biggest losses, with 1,300 jobs lost in the sector in January.

“As the weather continues to improve and our seasonal layoffs come to an end, we are hopeful our unemployment rate will continue to decline and our labor participation rate will improve,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at kocker@oskyherald.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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