State’s Best, Worst Unemployment In NW Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped again last month, and twelve of northwest Iowa’s sixteen counties had rates at or below the statewide rate.
The statewide rate fell to 4.0 percent in March from 4.1 percent in February. The state’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent in March.

Nonfarm employment increased for the sixth-consecutive month in March, adding 3,300 jobs, according to Iowa Workforce Development officials. They say that the state’s nonfarm employment expanded to an all-time high, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.0 percent, making it the lowest rate since May 2008.

In our area, Lyon County again had the lowest unemployment in the state at just 2.2 percent. That’s down from last year’s 3.3 percent. Osceola and O’Brien County were tied at 3.4 percent. That’s down from a year ago, when Osceola County had 3.7 percent, and O’Brien County had 3.9 percent. Sioux County unemployment was down from 3.8 percent a year ago to 3.1 percent this year.

In Cherokee County, where they’re still recovering from the loss of 450 jobs when the Tyson plant closed in September, their unemployment was up from 5.8 percent in March of 2014 to 6.6 percent this March. Cherokee County was the only county in the state to post an increase in unemployment from March of 2014. Their 6.6 percent unemployment was the highest in the state.

More information from Iowa Workforce Development:

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 67,800 in March from 70,300 in February. The current estimate is 6,200 lower than the year ago level of 74,000.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,647,100 in March. This figure is 600 higher than February and 25,500 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment
Iowa’s nonfarm employment posted another gain this month, adding 3,300 jobs. Following last month’s revision upward, total nonfarm employment has now increased in six consecutive months. Job growth was fueled primarily by service sectors, with private services gaining a combined 3,100 jobs. Public sectors added 500 jobs at the local level and remain up 3,600 jobs compared to one year ago. The state itself has added 26,900 jobs since last March (+1.7 percent).

The education and health services sector added the most jobs this month (+2,300) due to expansion in both private education and health care. Trade and transportation also posted a strong showing this month (+2,100) following a slight drop in February. This month’s gain was primarily bolstered by hiring in retail (+1,800) in preparation for increased summer traffic. Other monthly increases were small and included professional and business services, mining, and construction. Losses were slight this month and included a drop in leisure and hospitality (-1,100). A majority of this decline was in accommodations and food services (-900). Manufacturing pared jobs for the first time since October, with small losses occurring in both durable and nondurable goods factories. Financial activities pared 400 following an unexpectedly large increase in February.

Since last March, nonfarm employment has steadily advanced with growth occurring in most segments of the Iowa economy. Trade and transportation now leads all super sectors with 6,700 jobs added, followed by construction (+6,200) then professional and business services (+4,300). The only sector to trail last year’s level is the information sector (-1,000) as media becomes less labor-intensive and more technology-based. Iowa’s indicator sectors, manufacturing and financial services, are up 600 jobs combined.

True Cost Of Speeding Tickets Estimated

Statewide, Iowa — A new study has been released on the true cost of speeding in cities across Iowa. And northwest Iowa is not immune from the high cost.
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The study, released by the firm “NerdWallet” considered the cost of a speeding ticket and insurance premium increases over a 3-year period. Some cities in northwest Iowa are among the places where they say the true cost is among the highest.

John Kuo of NerdWallet tells us why they did the study.

He says that while drivers in Iowa pay all pay $168 in fines, fees and court costs for a speeding ticket of 11 to 15 mph over the legal limit, the other, more “hidden” costs are not the same.

He tells us why the “hidden” costs differ.

In the 80 communities mentioned in the results, the top three were Council Bluffs, Bettendorf, and Sioux City, where the true cost of a speeding ticket ranged from $550 to nearly $561. The true cost of that kind of speeding ticket in Orange City they figured was $495.75, which was 18th place. In Le Mars, the figure was $489.99. In Sioux Center it was $486.48. Sheldon was down the list a little at 50th place, with an estimated true cost of $473.49. In Spencer they figured it was $472.74.
Click here for the full list and more information from NerdWallet.

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Dordt Considering Two-Year Programs

Sioux Center, Iowa — Dordt College is considering offering two-year programs for people looking for technical skills taught in a Christian College environment.
Dordt Clock Tower
Dordt’s Chief Administrative Officer, Howard Wilson tells us that such a program has been suggested to the college’s faculty and administration.

Wilson says that to the best of his knowledge a technical program of this sort at a Christian college could be a first.

He gives us an idea of where they are in the process. He tells us that Dr. Eric Hoekstra, Dordt’s President, asked him to be co-leader of a task group that would look at the opportunity.

He says they’re also initiating a research phase.

He says if they go ahead, they’d want to start two programs, one in agriculture and one in manufacturing technology. He says the response from the community has been great.

Wilson says they don’t see the programs as being in direct competition with community and technical colleges, but rather a way to fill a niche and serve the community while keeping the focus on Christ.

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Fire Claims Garage, Two Vehicles, Boat

Hull, Iowa — A garage, a boat, and two vehicles were destroyed in a fire on Thursday, April 23, 2015 in Hull.
Hull Fire Water Truck
According to Hull Fire Chief Greg Van Roekel, about 7:05 AM, the Hull Fire Department was called to the report of a structure fully engulfed in flames at 1021 Division Street.

The chief says the fire department saw a fully engulfed garage as they approached the scene. He says they fought the fire with water and were able to save the other property, but the garage and its contents were a total loss.

Van Roekel says that no injuries were reported.

The fire department was assisted by the Sioux Center Fire Department and Hull Ambulance crew.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined.

Chief Van Roekel says they used about 5000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene an hour and a half.

Appeals Court Affirms Conviction

Des Moines, Iowa — A Sioux County man’s conviction has been affirmed by the Iowa Court of Appeals.
According to court records, 34-year-old Gary Ernest Moore was convicted in Sioux County District Court of third offense OWI as an Habitual Offender. Moore appealed his conviction and sentence, saying that the admission of fingerprint records violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the US and Iowa constitutions, and that his trial attorney was ineffective in failing to challenge the testimony of a fingerprint expert at trial. The fingerprint evidence needed to be included in the sentencing evidence because Moore declined to stipulate to his identity, requiring the State to present evidence he was the same person convicted of all the prior crimes. The expert’s opinion was that the fingerprints matched and that he was indeed the same person convicted of the prior crimes. Moore contended that the evidence was “testimonial,” which would have required the court to give Moore the opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. The appeals court said that the Confrontation Clause doesn’t apply in a sentencing hearing anyway, and even if it did, the evidence was not “testimonial” in nature.

Moore was found guilty after a jury trial in Sioux County in March, 2014. He was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. The appeals court affirmed the conviction and the sentence.

Sutherland Woman Wins Big In Lottery

Sutherland, Iowa — A northwest Iowa woman has won a $10,000 lottery prize.
Lottery JenniferMcClaren
According to the Iowa Lottery, Jennifer McClaren of Sutherland claimed the first of 16 prizes of $10,000 available in the Iowa Lottery’s new “Golden Casino” instant-scratch game.

McClaren claimed her prize Monday, April 20th at the lottery’s regional office in Storm Lake. She purchased her winning ticket at Car-Go Express, on Southern Street in Sutherland, say lottery officials.

They say Golden Casino is a $10 scratch game. Players match like numbers to win prizes. If the player matches one of the “Your Numbers” to any of the “Winning Numbers,” they win the prize shown for that play spot. If they match both of the “Your Numbers” in a play spot to any of the “Winning Numbers,” they win double the prize shown for that play spot. If they reveal the “money bag” symbol in any play spot, they win $40 automatically. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are 1 in 2.96, according to lottery officials.

Seven top prizes of $100,000 are still up for grabs in Golden Casino, as well as 14 prizes of $10,000, 117 prizes of $1,000 and thousands of prizes between $100 and $500.

According to information from the Iowa Lottery, since its start in 1985, its players have won more than $3.4 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.6 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.

Today, they say lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.