Iowa is experiencing a big job hunting bonanza.
And it’s coming from all directions.
The number of job seekers applying to federal positions surged in the last two months to a record high of 4,844, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s up from 4,632 the month before.
The latest uptick comes as employers have begun offering bonuses to lure workers back into the workforce.
That has pushed more people to apply.
And employers are starting to take advantage of new programs to keep more of their employees engaged and looking for new jobs.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the average monthly salary for full-time workers rose by $2,000 in December from a year earlier.
That helped lift the average hourly wage in the past 12 months to $30.50, the highest since July 2009.
The average monthly cost of living increased by 2.4% in December, while the cost of housing went up by 0.8% and public assistance increased by 0% in November.
The surge in applicants comes after several states tightened eligibility requirements for federal jobs and job training programs.
Many states have eliminated certain federal-job training requirements.
And some states have cut job-training grants.
Iowa’s job market is still recovering from the 2008-2009 recession and the unemployment rate fell below 6% for the first time since 2012.
But employers have been moving away from the more-generous federal jobs training programs that helped spur the economic boom in the early years of the Great Recession.
The state’s unemployment rate for people looking for a job is 9.3%.
That’s down from 10.9% in May 2017.
But the state is still experiencing a job search boom, particularly in rural areas where the number of people looking to work has remained flat or even declined, said Tom Leighton, a senior vice president at the Iowa Department of Labor.
The state is seeing an increase in job seekers from Iowa, Texas and Alabama, which have also tightened eligibility and other requirements for workers looking for jobs, Leighton said.
Leighton said some employers are taking advantage of the job-search incentives, including the state’s job-preparation and placement incentives.
But others are still reluctant to take on more workers, said Robert Johnson, president of the Iowa Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve seen a decline in the number,” Johnson said.
“That’s something that the state should be concerned about.
We have some of the worst job-growth rates in the country.”
Iowa has some of its best-paying jobs in the nation.
Its unemployment rate is 3.3% in the rural counties and metro areas, according the BLS.
And the state has one of the lowest poverty rates in America.
The poverty rate for a family of four is 4.7%.
Many people in Iowa have been able to save for their next big move.
In the past year, the number to buy a home has climbed to a new record high, reaching $2.8 million in December.
That’s up $500,000 from last year.
And with the unemployment percentage so low, many are moving back into their homes.
In January, the median home value in the state reached $1.6 million, up $400,000 on the same month a year ago.
Some have moved to bigger towns, including Cedar Rapids, which has had a boom in construction jobs.
But even some rural areas have struggled to find the people who want to work.
In March, the unemployment-rate for the Iowa cities of Des Moines and Iowa City hit a record low of 6.3%, but the unemployment for rural areas hit 6.1% in March.
In Cedar Rapids alone, there were 2,700 job seekers out of the nearly 6,700 who applied in the city, the lowest level in Iowa.
The jobs market has been strong, and so has the state economy.
Iowa’s unemployment fell below 8% in October and is now at 8.3.
But that has not been enough to offset the economic blow of the recession, said Mark Sissel, chief economist at the University of Iowa.
The number of jobs lost has been a factor, but it’s also a function of the overall decline in income and other factors.
Some jobs have been lost due to natural disasters and other economic hardships.
But it’s a different story for those who have been laid off from a manufacturing sector that’s been hit hard by the Great Depression.
Iowa has seen the biggest decline in manufacturing jobs in all of America since 2000, according a BLS report.
That year, Iowa lost 6.6% of its manufacturing jobs.