Source of information: Iowa Workforce Development, 1000 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines 50319; 515/281-5802

Iowa's already tight labor market grew even tighter in 1998. The unemployment rate for 1998 was set at a 2.8 percent, the lowest yearly average ever recorded and third lowest in the country. The yearly average for unemployed Iowans was a mere 43,500, another record low. The number of employed Iowans was 1,526,300.

These unprecedented employment statistics were set despite depressed farm prices. Overall Iowa's economic engine got humming. But nagging doubts about looming labor shortages persist.

It's estimated that between 1996 and 2005 Iowa's economy is expected to generate more than 54,500 jobs each year. Helping to improve both the quantity and the quality of Iowa's workforce is one of the prime missions of Iowa Workforce Development or IWD.

Created in 1996, IWD consolidated a number of employment and job training programs under one department. Working in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa's Community Colleges and a number of other care providers, IWD is forming partnerships to address Iowa's workforce needs.

IWD, in conjunction with a number of partner agencies and organizations, has established a series of Iowa Workforce Development Centers across the state. At these one-stop centers, a variety of products are offered to employers, job seekers, students, economic developers and other stakeholders in a community. Training, skills assessment, career counseling, resume writing and a variety of other services are provided, many at no charge. Employers can use the Centers to help gather, screen and interview applicants. Many of the Centers also have Resource Rooms where Iowans can access Internet Job Listing and Posting services.

Iowa Workforce Development is also responsible for promoting and ensuring safe workplaces. Working with Iowa employers is the preferred approach, but fines are another enforcement tool.