Iowa’s economy continued to pick up steam last month, as Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6%. Here’s the release from Iowa Workforce Development:

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in December, the lowest level reported since June 2009. The current rate compares with 5.7 percent for November, and 6.1 percent for December 2010. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped for the fourth straight month in December to 8.5 percent. The November rate was revised to 8.7 percent, and the December 2010 rate stood at 9.4 percent.

“The state’s economy ended 2011 in a better place than was expected just a few months ago,” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Both the labor force and total employment are beginning to trend upward, and the unemployment rate has fallen considerably below the 6.0 percent mark.”

The statewide estimate of unemployed persons fell to 93,500 in December from 94,700 in November. The level of unemployed persons stood at 102,600 one year ago.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,565,500 in December from 1,562,000 in November. Iowa’s measure of total employment began to increase in November after declining since May.