Idaho jobless rate declines to 2.9 percent

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BOISE — Idaho’s August seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 10 years, matching the state’s record low of 2.9 percent in June 2007.

August’s one tenth-of-a-percent decline was the sixth consecutive monthly decrease in the unemployment rate and is a result of the first substantial increase to Idaho’s labor force since February.

An additional 1,802 new entrants joined the labor force in August, and employment increased by 2,979 for a total of 796,430, absorbing 1,177 unemployed workers.

Nonfarm jobs grew by 2,400 — pushing Idaho’s total payrolls to 714,100.

Eight of the state’s 11 industry sectors shared the increase.

Trade, transportation and utilities added the most jobs in August at 1,400, while jobs in other services grew the fastest at 2.9 percent.

Idaho’s nonfarm jobs have shown steady annual growth for nearly eight years since the trough of the past recession in January 2010. Over the year, the state’s nonfarm payroll jobs were up 2.2 percent with a net gain of 15,200 jobs. Construction grew the fastest at 4.5 percent.

Over the year, Idaho’s labor force statistics continue to reflect the state’s robust economic growth.

Employment was up 10,698 from August of 2016 and the state’s labor force showed a 3,151 increase.

Unemployment was down 24.4 percent with 7,547 fewer unemployed workers.

The state’s labor force participation rate — the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work — increased to 63.1 percent, up one-tenth of a percent, after five months of slow declines.

Department analysts classified 5,272 of Idaho’s 24,000 online job postings for August as hard-to-fill.

Health care jobs — physicians, surgeons, psychiatrists, occupational and physical therapists and support positions — accounted for 24 percent of all hard-to-fill jobs.

Ads for registered nurses, retail salespersons and tractor-trailer drivers were the most numerous at 705 combined.

Nationally, unemployment was 4.4 percent in August — up one tenth of a percent from July — while the country’s labor force and the participation rate held steady at 62.9 percent.

Annually, unemployment insurance benefit payments were down nearly 16 percent — from $1.3 million a year ago to $1.1 million for August 2017.

The number of claimants decreased by 17 percent from a weekly average of 4,700 a year ago to 3,900.

The Lewiston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) showed the strongest seasonally adjusted over-the-year percentage nonfarm employment growth of all MSAs at 3.9 percent in August, or 1,100 jobs, followed by the Boise metro area with a 3.7 percent increase, or 11,500 jobs.

Month over month, Idaho Falls was the only MSA that did not meet or exceed seasonal expectations with a loss of 100 jobs, or -0.2 percent, while Lewiston met seasonal expectations with no change for August. Boise (up 0.8 percent), Coeur d’Alene and Pocatello (0.5 percent) MSAs together saw nonfarm job increases of 3,000.

Twenty of Idaho’s 44 counties had unemployment rates at or above the state rate in August.

Of these, three counties were at or above 5 percent: Clearwater at 5.8 percent, Shoshone at 5.3 percent and Lewis at 5.1 percent.

Madison County’s unemployment rate remained the lowest at 1.6 percent.

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