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Posts tagged: unemployment

Former state senator’s bid for unemployment after leaving Senate denied

Former state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, sought unemployment benefits after leaving the state Legislature to run for Congress, the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey reports today, but was denied. Popkey talked with legislative leaders from both parties; none supported the move. “My concern was much broader than just this individual claim,” Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, told Popkey. “If she qualified, then what about all the other legislators who got redistricted out, or decided not to run, or got beat in the primary or general election? Are all of them eligible for unemployment?”

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, told Popkey, “It makes me uncomfortable to think that elected officials, when they were defeated or chose not to run, would have unemployment insurance coverage.” You can read Popkey’s full report here; click below for a shorter version of the story via the Associated Press.

Idaho Dept. of Labor warns employers about fraudulent email requests

The Idaho Department of Labor is warning that emails being sent to employers seeking information on former employees who may have filed unemployment insurance claims are fraudulent, and employers should ignore them. The emails, purporting to be from the state “Division of Unemployment Assistance” and coming from the email address claim@detma.org have been reported so far in the eastern United States and most recently in Montana. They appear to be an attempt at identity theft, the department said. In Idaho, the agency responsible for unemployment insurance claims is the Unemployment Insurance/Benefits Division of the Idaho Department of Labor, and it doesn't request confidential employee information by email; the department instead would make such requests by telephone, mail, or its secure employer electronic system, ECORE.

81 vets got job offers at yesterday’s ‘Hiring Our Heroes’ job fair

Nearly 700 service members, veterans and their spouses attended the “Hiring Our Heroes” job fair at the Idaho Center yesterday, the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce reports, and 81 of them got job offers at the fair. “In addition, many follow-up phone calls and interviews were scheduled yesterday, as the companies present at the fair plan to hire 327 additional new employees over the next 12 months,” the chamber said in a statement today; the fair attracted more than 100 employers.

The latest figures for veteran unemployment rates in Idaho compared to the overall population, from the 2010 Census, showed that while non-veterans in Idaho had an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent, veterans were at 12.8 percent.

The job fair, one of a series of such events across the country sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and various veterans and military organizations, was co-sponsored in Boise by organizations including the Boise Chamber, the Idaho Department of Labor, KTVB-TV and more.

Idaho jobless rate hits three-year low

Idaho's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit a three-year low in July, falling two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.5 percent, the Idaho Department of Labor reports. Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate rose a tenth of a point in July, to 8.3 percent.

The Conference Board estimated that Idaho now has fewer than five unemployed workers for every two posted job openings. Back at the peak of the recession in 2009, there were nine unemployed people jostling for every two posted job openings in the state. You can read the full announcement here from the Department of Labor.

Idaho unemployment drops to 7.7% in June

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― State officials say the number of unemployed workers in Idaho has dipped below 60,000 for the first time in nearly three years. Idaho's jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent in June and 59,000 workers counted as unemployed, or about 700 fewer than the previous month. The state Department of Labor says August 2009 marked the last time Idaho had fewer than 60,000 workers without jobs. The agency says payments from Idaho's unemployment trust fund were also down last month, as fewer than 21,000 workers received $19.7 million in benefits. That's a big decrease compared to a year ago, when more than 30,000 workers received $28.8 million in June 2011. Nationwide, jobless rates fell in just 11 states and Washington D.C.

May jobless rate up a tenth, ending string of 9 straight monthly declines

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The state Department of Labor says Idaho's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point to 7.8 percent in May, ending a string of nine straight monthly declines. The agency says more people entered the job market while hiring slowed in much of the service sector. The national unemployment rate also was up a tenth to 8.2 percent for May. Over 721,000 Idaho residents had jobs in May, while fewer than 61,000 were unemployed. In May 2011, total employment was under 702,000 and 67,500 workers were unemployed.

Idaho jobless rate drops for 9th straight month

Idaho's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has dropped for the ninth straight month, falling to 7.7 percent for April. That's two-tenths of a percentage point down from March. Idaho Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick said employers hired at seasonal levels in April, and the number of Idahoans with jobs was up by 1,700 from March. Hiring in all sectors was normal for this time of the year, Fick reported, except for government and professional and business services, which saw below-normal hiring. It was the third straight month that hires have exceeded the five-year average. You can read Fick's full report here.
  

Idaho unemployment drops for 8th straight month, falls to 7.9%

Idaho's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent in March for the first time in two and a half years, the Idaho Department of Labor reports. The drop to 7.9 percent was the eight straight month that the state's jobless rate fell; more Idahoans found work in March than in any other month since October of 2006. You can read the full announcement from Labor here.

Labor, IRS to work together to recoup unemployment overpayments

Idaho's Department of Labor will start intercepting federal tax refunds headed to more than 5,000 Idahoans next year, to recover nearly $10 million in unemployment benefit overpayments due to fraud or misreported earnings. To avoid the move, the people involved, who all are being notified, will have to repay the amounts by Jan. 3, 2012, including interest and penalties; agree to a repayment plan; or request a review. For information, call toll-free (800) 672-5627.

 Department official Larry Ingram said department has collected $23 million in overpayments, interest and penalties since 2007, and has withheld state income tax refunds as part of its collection efforts, but this year will be the first time federal officials have allowed it to tap into federal income tax refunds.

Idaho jobless rate dipped in August

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho's unemployment rate dipped to 9.2 percent in August, down from 9.4 percent in July. The state Department of Labor released the latest jobless numbers Friday. While Idaho posted its lowest unemployment rate since May 2010, the agency says 70,000 workers were still without jobs last month. Camas County had the highest jobless rate at 16.9 percent, while the lowest was recorded in Owyhee County at 5.3 percent. Nationwide, Idaho was among 12 states where the jobless rate decreased. The federal Labor Department reported Friday that unemployment rates increased in 26 other states and were unchanged in the remaining 12 states. The national unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent for the second straight month.

Idaho unemployment held steady in June at 9.4 percent

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Labor says the statewide unemployment held steady at 9.4 percent in June. The agency released the latest jobless numbers on Friday, saying the Idaho labor pool shrunk for the first time in 10 months as fewer jobs were created and more than 1,800 unemployed workers either gave up their search or left the state in June. Idaho's jobless rate fell to 9.4 percent in May, down from 9.6 percent in April. The labor department says more than 30,000 unemployed workers collected $28.8 million in benefits last month, which is down compared to a year ago when more than 38,000 workers received $41.7 million in June 2010. The state reports more than 10,600 unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits and are still without work.

Idaho jobless rate falls for first time in four years

For the first time in four years, Idaho's jobless rate has fallen – in April, it dropped a tenth of a point from 9.7 percent to 9.6 percent, as more than 3,000 Idahoans went back to work. That means the state's economy generated more jobs than expected in April, a good sign as the state struggles to rebound from a deep recession. You can read a full report here from the Idaho Department of Labor.

The gain wasn't evenly distributed throughout the state; 21 of Idaho's 44 counties had higher unemployment rates in April than in March, while 23 saw drops. However, three of the state's most-populated counties saw unemployment fall: Ada County's jobless rate dropped from 9.4 percent in March to 9.1 percent in April; Canyon County's went from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent; and Kootenai County's dropped from 11.2 to 11.1 percent. Bonneville County, which has much lower unemployment, saw an increase from 7.6 percent in March to 7.8 percent in April. You can see breakouts here for counties and labor market areas.

Labor touts biggest one-month drop in Idaho unemployment in 25 years

Here’s some positive economic news: The Idaho Department of Labor reports that a surge in hiring across most of the economy dropped Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 9.1 percent in April, a drop of three-tenths of a percentage point from March and the largest one-month decline since 1983. “April was the second straight month Idaho’s jobless rate declined, bucking the national rate which jumped two-tenths of a percent to 9.9 percent, the department reported. “Until March, Idaho’s rate had climbed steadily from a record low 2.7 percent in March 2007 to 9.5 percent this February.” You can read the full announcement here.

Bright side of unemployment?

Certainly, it’s not good economic news that Idaho’s unemployment is breaking more and more records. Last week, the $16.2 million in unemployment insurance benefits paid by the state broke the previous weekly record, which was set the first week of April, and the year-to-date figure of $627 million in benefits paid to out-of-work Idahoans has shattered all records - in all of 2008, the state paid out $247 million. But according to the state Department of Labor, there’s an economic silver lining to this: Moody’s Economy.com estimates that every dollar paid in unemployment benefits actually has an economic impact of $1.63, because unemployment, unlike other income, is almost always spent, not saved. And it’s spent on basics like house payments, rent, utilities, food and gas - which boosts the economy.

More bad economic news: Idaho’s ‘job gap’ is growing

Anyone who was lucky enough to find a job in Washington or Idaho in 2008 likely ended up with one that doesn’t pay enough to support a family, according to a new study out today. The Northwest Job Gap study, which the Northwest Confederation of Community Organizations has sponsored each year or two since 1999, calculated that a living wage for a single adult with two children in Washington was $28.67 an hour, and 77 percent of job openings last year didn’t pay that much. In Idaho, the figure was $26.98 an hour, and 89 percent of job openings fell short.

Not only that, the report noted that since the 2008 figures were gathered, the situation’s worsened considerably, with the number of job seekers in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington nearly doubling. And the percentages of jobs whose wages fall short have grown substantially since a similar study in 2004. “Due to the economic conditions, things are not getting better - they’re getting worse,” said Boise economist Don Reading. “There are fewer jobs available. They’re paying lower wages.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Labor: Beware of site charging for unemployment filings; they’re free

Idaho’s Department of Labor is warning against a private company that’s soliciting out-of-work Idahoans to pay it $9.95 to file their claims for unemployment benefits. Actually, unemployed workers can file such claims themselves for free, either at a local unemployment office, by phone or online. “People need to steer clear of Web sites that appear to offer legitimate applications for unemployment insurance benefits when, in fact, they do not,” said Josh McKenna, benefits bureau chief for the department. “Using an unofficial site will not only cost money that doesn’t need to be spent but could also delay benefits.” The department’s official Web site is the place to go instead, McKenna said, along with its “Idaho Works” online benefits application site.

Idaho borrowing from feds to bail out unemployment insurance trust fund

Idaho has borrowed more than $51 million from the federal government since July 1 to bail out its unemployment insurance trust fund, despite a 70 percent tax rate increase for Idaho employers this year. It gets worse: The state expects the borrowing to rise to $190 million by next spring - even with a much larger tax increase likely to hit next year. “The rate will go up in 2010 and it will go up more than it did this year,” said Bob Fick, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Labor.

For much of the past decade, business interests pushed to freeze tax rates when they would otherwise have gone up, pushing off a reckoning. But that’s not likely this year. “We kinda knew we were in a situation where, given the severity of this downturn, and particularly the severity for Idaho, things really weren’t going to be looking good for this fund,” said Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. “It’s not on our list as something that we are going to push for legislative amendments.”

You can read my full story here. With soaring unemployment, Idaho expects to pay out $550 million in federal and state unemployment benefits this year - the highest it ever paid before was $247 million in 2008. “We’re talking about doubling it in one year’s time,” Fick said. “This is a severe circumstance.”

Laid-off Mac user in Idaho? You’re out of luck…

Idaho unemployment claims are running at high volume, with 45,000 active claims as of June 12, thanks to the economic downturn and widespread layoffs, including those in the high-tech sector. Here’s an oddity, though: 60 percent of jobless claims in the first quarter of this year were filed online, as opposed to in-person, the only other choice for initial claims. But the state Department of Labor’s online filing service can be accessed only with Internet Explorer 7. That leaves out those who’ve updated their browsers to the new Internet Explorer 8 (Labor spokesman Bob Fick says a work-around for IE 8 users should be ready “within a couple of weeks”), and, of course, anyone who uses a Mac.

“What we have was developed 15 years ago,” Fick said. At that time, he said, it was determined that only the Microsoft browser could handle a secure session that might stop midway through, then restart later, without the user having to start from scratch inputting data. When the system first was developed, Fick said, 97 percent of users had Internet Explorer. “Now, only about 80 to 85 percent of the people have it,” he said. The department’s tech people are now looking at Firefox and Safari to see what adaptations might be necessary in the online claim-filing system to make it compatible with those browsers. “It’ll be within a year that they’ll have it fixed,” Fick said. “As far as the complaints, there hasn’t been any increase or decrease in complaints. There have been Mac users that have complained all along they can’t get in. Fixing it is a question of money, and of time.”

Record unemployment for Idaho in May

The jobs news from May isn’t good - nearly 5,600 more Idaho workers lost their jobs, driving the May unemployment rate to a 22-year high of 7.8 percent. It’s a time of year when typically there are seasonal employment increases, and there were, but they were well below expected levels, according to the state Department of Labor. Construction payrolls saw their lowest April-to-May increase since 1990, and manufacturing jobs hit their lowest level since 1992. The seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate of 7.8 percent is up from 7 percent in April and 4.5 percent in May of 2008.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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