February’s floods brought lots of mud to North Idaho. But they also brought a lot of jobs.
Somebody had to clean up the millions of dollars in damage done by the raging waters. The state isn’t sure how many temporary jobs were created, but it was enough to push Idaho’s unemployment rate down to its lowest point in nearly seven years, according to the Idaho Department of Employment.
February’s floods put people to work in many ways. At the St. Maries Super Foods supermarket, which was caked in mud left behind by the St. Joe River, dozens of people were hired to help wash the store’s floor and rebuild water-damaged walls, said Chester Schilling, the store manager.
Janitorial services and building supply stores across Kootenai County benefited from the cleanup effort, and many brought on new staff to help the effort.
But the link between floods and jobs left Benewah County Commissioner Jack Buell unimpressed. “We still have our water here.”
Buell said short-term construction work will be available when the full extent of the flood damage becomes clear.
Idaho’s unemployment rate of 4.8 percent in February beat the 4.9 percent rate set in April 1989. January’s rate was 5.1 percent, and last February’s rate was 5.4 percent.
The early-year government shutdown has delayed the release of county unemployment statistics until next week.
But if January unemployment numbers in the Panhandle are any indication, the job market is looking up.
Kootenai County unemployment in January dropped to 6.4 percent from 6.8 percent in December. The Panhandle rate dropped to 6.8 percent from 7.5 percent.
Statewide, a record 587,200 workers were on the job last month.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: More jobs in Idaho Unemployment fell to 4.8 percent in Idaho in February, lower than a previous low of 4.9 percent set in April 1989. In Kootenai County, unemployment in January dropped to 6.4 percent from 6.8 percent in December. The fivecounty Panhandle rate dropped to 6.8 percent from 7.5 percent.