Idaho unemployment below seven percent
December 21, 2012
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in
November dropped below seven percent for the
first time in three and a half years as more
than a thousand idled workers found new jobs.
Thirty-six of the 44 counties posted declines in
their jobless rates from October and all but
Custer County had rates lower than a year ago.
The two-tenths of a percentage point decline
statewide to 6.8 percent marked the sixth time
in 13 months the jobless rate has fallen by more
than a single tenth. The last time the rate was
lower was March 2009. The post-recession high
was 8.9 percent in July 2011.
Total employment was up 1,500 from October to
over 722,200, the highest total since mid-2008
and 14,000 ahead of a year ago, as employers
maintained payrolls at a stronger pace than
normal for November. The number of workers
without jobs fell 1,800 to below 52,400, down
over 13,000 from a year ago.
But more than 300 workers dropped out of the
labor force in November. It was the sixth
straight month the state’s workforce has
declined, essentially returning to the level it
was in November 2011.
Since spring Idaho has lost almost 7,500
workers, the largest continuous erosion of the
labor force since 9,100 dropped out over eight
months at the end of 2008 and the start of 2009.
The only other contraction worse than the
current one was 8,700 lost over nine months
Idaho’s two-tenths of a point decline in the
unemployment rate matched the national rate
decline to 7.7 percent in November. Idaho’s rate
has been below the national rate since September
Regular unemployment insurance benefit payments
totaled $13.4 million in November paid to an
average of 10,800 idled workers a week. That was
down 19 percent from November 2011, and the
number of claimants had fallen over 22 percent.
In addition $8.3 million in federal extended
benefits was paid to an average of 6,800 workers
a week, about half the federal payments made a
year earlier. The number of people claiming
claimants extended benefits was down 42 percent.
Even the gradual improvement in the economy has
been important for the long-term unemployed, who
will lose their unemployment benefits at the end
of December when the federal benefit extensions
are terminated. Since that program began in
mid-2007, it has pumped nearly $800 million into
the Idaho economy through assistance to over
150,000 Idaho workers and their families.
Employers are hiring again, but the pace is
slow. The 14,000 new hires Idaho businesses
reported in November were almost exclusively for
filling vacancies created by firings,
retirements or other reasons. At their current
pace, employers will hire just over 180,000
workers this year, essentially matching their
hires during 2008, the first year of the
In its November report, the Washington, D.C.,
based Conference Board, a business think tank,
estimated there were just over two jobless
workers for every job posting in Idaho. While
still extremely competitive, the employment
picture has significantly improved from late
2009 when nearly five unemployed workers vied
for every job posting.
Employers in nearly every sector – including
construction – kept their payrolls at or above
the average levels for the last five years, and
overall nonfarm jobs remained 1.2 percent ahead
of 2011 levels. The exceptions are information,
accommodations and business support services.
Government administration at all levels – local,
state and federal – reported fractional declines
in their payrolls during the month.
Only five rural counties – all in northern and
north central Idaho – posted double-digit
jobless rates in November, half the number from
October. Resource-reliant Adams County remained
the county with the highest rate at 16.1
percent, down more than two percentage points
Boundary County was one of those, posting a 10.1
percent unemployment rate, down from
12.4-percent posted in November, 2011.
Fourteen counties had rates below 6 percent, up
from 13 in October and just six in November
2011. Oneida County posted the lowest rate at
3.8 percent – the first time a county has been
under 4 percent since Owyhee in June 2009.
All five metropolitan areas had rates lower than
both October and a year ago.
Questions or comments about this
Click here to e-mail!