New numbers released this week by Iowa Workforce Development find the Hawkeye State joining Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota in seeing a slight drop in the unemployment rate for the month of April.

Iowa’s jobless rate fell from 5.2 in March to 5.1 percent – marking the first drop in the state’s unemployment rate since June 2006, a span of 34 months.

However, Iowa’s unemployment rate had only increased 1.5 percentage points during this span, and has only risen 1.1 points, or 27.5 percent, since April 2008 – the smallest increase in the Upper Midwest.

Upper Midwestern 12-Month Change in Unemployment Rate By State

State
April 2008
April 2009
Change
Percent
Iowa
4.0
5.1
+1.1
+27.5
North Dakota
3.0
4.0
+1.0
+33.3
Minnesota
5.4
8.1
+2.7
+50.0
South Dakota
2.9
4.8
+1.9
+65.5
Wisconsin
4.5
8.6
+4.1
+91.1

Note: Data from Iowa Workforce Development, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, North Dakota Workforce Intelligence Network, South Dakota Department of Labor, and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development compiled by Smart Politics.

Iowa’s jobless rate is now 3.8 points lower than that of the country overall (8.9 percent) – tied for the largest differential on record since 1976 (the state also had a 3.8-point lower rate than the nation in January 1976, November 1976, and December 1976).

Iowa has had a lower rate of unemployment than the country overall in 382 out of 400 months since January 1976, has had the same rate in 3 months, and has had a higher rate in just 15 months – the last time being February 1986.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.