Jobless rate matches Deere rebound


WATERLOO — The Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area’s January jobless rate tweaked upward from December but is still significantly less than a year ago.

Figures provided by Iowa Workforce Development showed a jobless rate of 3.9 percent for January. That’s more than the 3.2 percent for December, but less than the 5.3 percent recorded in January 2017. The rate is for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls “metropolitan statistical area,” which includes Black Hawk, Bremer and Butler counties.

Rates typically go up after the first of a year, after the holiday shopping season and before the start of spring construction season.

However the improvement in comparison to a year ago is roughly concurrent with callbacks and hiring at John Deere’s Waterloo operations.

Deere officials recently said all employees with recall rights from a pair of layoffs in 2014 and 2015 that idled nearly 1,000 workers have been gradually recalled. Some employees were hired for the Deere Waterloo Foundry in late 2017, with more interviewing and screening contemplated. Deere employs about 5,000 locally.

Waterloo-Cedar Falls remained tied with Cedar Rapids as the highest rate of the metro areas tracked by the state. Ames was the lowest, at 1.8 percent.

January jobless rates for Northeast Iowa counties, with the January 2017 rates in parentheses, are: Benton, 4.2 (4.5); Black Hawk, 4.0 (5.6); Bremer, 3.2 (4.1); Buchanan, 4.1 (5.6); Butler, 4.6 (6.0); Chickasaw, 4.2 (5.0); Delaware, 3.3 (4.7); Fayette, 4.9 (6.0); Floyd 3.9 (4.4); Franklin, 3.3 (4.5); Grundy, 3.9 (4.5); Hardin, 4.4 (4.8); Howard, 4.8 (5.1); Mitchell, 2.7 (2.8); Tama, 4.8 (5.5); and Winneshiek, 5.1 (5.8).