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Idaho jobless rate falls to 7.1%

The unemployment rate in Idaho fell to 7.1 percent in September, the lowest rate since May 2009 and down from 7.4 percent in August.

But the state also has seen its labor force shrink four straight months, including the first August-September decline since the 1986 recession, the Idaho Department of Labor said Friday.

Employers in Idaho expanded payrolls last month at a higher rate than in the past five years, and at a slightly faster pace than during the expansion of 2003-07, the state reported.

Another 1,200 workers were on the job in September, pushing total employment to 720,600 – its highest level in four years – and breaking a two-month employment slide.

The jobless rate last month fell to 9 percent in Kootenai County; it was 11.5 percent a year ago. The rate hit 8.1 percent in Coeur d’Alene last month, down from 10.7 percent in September 2011.

Elsewhere in North Idaho, the September rate was 12.4 percent in Benewah County, 10.3 percent in Bonner County, 10.2 percent in Boundary County, and 12.1 percent in Shoshone County.

Jobless rate still falling in Idaho, but labor force shrinking

The unemployment rate fell in August across North Idaho and statewide, due in part to fewer people seeking jobs.

The Idaho rate fell to 7.4 percent, down slightly from July. In Kootenai County, the August jobless rate was 9 percent, down from 9.3 percent the month before.

The rate was lower in Bonner, Boundary, Benewah and Shoshone counties as well.

The loss of 2,600 workers from the state’s labor force – the first July-to-August decline since 1980 – offset an increase in hiring by employers at a rate just above their recession-era average, said Bob Fick, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Labor.

The August jobless rate statewide was the lowest in more than three years, but it also was the third straight month Idaho’s labor force has contracted, Fick explained.

The loss of more than 5,500 from the workforce through the summer was the largest three-month exodus of workers on record in the state and has left the labor force at its lowest level since January.

Still, there were 17,000 more people working in Idaho in August than a year earlier, and 11,000 fewer unemployed. In the past 13 months, the jobless rate has dropped a point and a half from a recession high of 8.9 percent.

Employers may be picking up their hiring, Fick said. Businesses report hiring 18,400 workers in August, mostly to replace workers who retired, were fired, found other jobs or left for some other reason. That rate of hiring matches the average August new hires during the economic expansion from 2003 through 2007, he said.

Washington jobless rate falls to 9 percent

OLYMPIA — Washington’s jobless rate has dropped to 9 percent — the lowest since March 2009, according to figures released today by the state Employment Security Department.

The October rate compares with a revised figure of 9.2 percent for September and 9.4 percent in October of last year in the state, the Associated Press reported. The national jobless rate also is 9 percent.   

With 4,600 jobs added in October in Washington, the department says the state has added jobs in 12 of the last 13 months.  

A loss of 18,000 jobs reported in September was revised to a loss of 10,700 jobs.  

“The October numbers showing slow, steady improvement are more consistent with what we’ve seen for more than a year,” said Dave Wallace, a department economist.  “It looks more likely that the September numbers were an anomaly.”  

Jobs were added in October in government, wholesale trade, education and health services and manufacturing. Jobs were lost in professional and business services, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and retail trade.

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