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FRIDAY, JAN. 21, 2011, 3:27 P.M.

Idaho unemployment rate improves, but tops U.S. average

Idaho's unemployment rate of 9.5 in December exceeded the national rate for the first time in nine years, the state Department of Labor said today.

The state rate had matched the 9.4 percent for the U.S. in November and December, but  employers laid off about 500 workers in December, and the labor force contracted as some stopped looking for work.

In Kootenai County, the rate fell to 10.5 percent in December from 10.9 percent in November. For all of 2010, the rate averaged 10.6 percent, compared with 9.1 percent in 2009.

The yearly average for Coeur d'Alene was 10.4 percent, for Post Falls 11.1 percent. At the end of December, the rates for those communties were 10.6 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.

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Bert Caldwell
Bert Caldwell oversees production of the opinion pages, including writing editorials, and editing and selecting letters, columns and cartoons.