Nation/World


Idaho Jobless Rate Drops To 4.8 Percent But Panhandle Continues To Lead State In Unemployment

FOR THE RECORD, July 15, 1995: The Idaho Department of Employment released incorrect unemployment rates for two Idaho counties, which were reported in The Spokesman-Review last Friday. Kootenai County’s June unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, down from 6.6 percent in May and from 7.3 percent in June 1994. Shoshone county’s June unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, down from 8.3 percent in May but up from 7/0 percent in June 1994.<

Despite lingering concerns about the state’s economic expansion slowing, Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 4.8 percent in June.

As usual, North Idaho’s unemployment rate remained the highest of any region in the state.

Kootenai County bucked the downward trend with an unemployment increase to 7.5 percent from 6.6 percent in May. Rainy June weather - far wetter than in other parts of the state - figured largely in the jump. Bad weather hampers construction and logging operations, two big parts of the labor force here.

The Department of Employment credited the three-tenths of a point decline from May’s statewide jobless rate to good weather in general that bolstered job opportunities in outdoor-oriented sectors, led by tourism and a rebound in construction.

“The Idaho economy will continue to produce new jobs at a strong pace,” analysts at West One Bancorp continued to predict.

But the robust employment situation contrasted with reports from state economists that personal income tax withholding - a key indicator of job strength - was falling short of expectations this winter and spring.

That seemed to bolster claims by organized labor that the state’s seven-year economic expansion has really done little to improve the financial standing of individuals.

Arguing that more and more workers are being dumped from good jobs into ones paying only the minimum wage, the AFL-CIO on Friday launched an initiative campaign to hike the $4.25-an-hour minimum wage by $2 dollars over four years beginning in mid-1997.

With the labor force essentially stable at just under 603,000, even the modest increase in the number of Idahoans at work last month was enough to drive the jobless rate below 5 percent for the first time since the spring of 1989.

The rate never has been lower than 4.8 percent since the present calculation system first was used in 1978, and it has hit 4.8 percent only twice before - in March 1989 and November 1988.

The jobless rate in June 1994 was 5.4 percent.

Unemployment rates for other Panhandle counties compared to June 1994 were as follows: Benewah, down to 6.9 percent from 8.4 percent; Bonner, up to 8.6 percent from 7.2 percent; Boundary, down to 7.6 percent from 8.2 percent; Shoshone, down to 6.4 percent from 7.0 percent.

Increased activity in trucking, logging, agriculture and food processing along with construction and tourism pushed the number of Idahoans off the job below 30,000 for the first time since the fall of 1990.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = From staff and wire reports Staff writer Eric Torbenson contributed to this report.



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