DES MOINES — Iowa's unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% in October, continuing a steady decline since it soared last spring because of lob losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the state reported Friday.

The October rate was down from 4.8% in September and a high of 11% in April, when many businesses halted operations as COVID-19 first swept through the country.

The unemployment rate has fallen even as coronavirus infection rates and deaths reach new highs in Iowa.

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Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend called the declining rate "a ray of sunshine."

Iowa's unemployment rate is tied with South Dakota for third-lowest in the nation, behind Nebraska and Vermont.

The national unemployment rate for October was 6.9%