Tough weather in late November and December pushed Idaho Panhandle unemployment rates up substantially in December.
The five-county average rose to 9.3 percent from just 7.5 percent in November, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. The late-November ice storm made outdoor work impossible, curtailing logging and construction employment.
Kootenai County’s rate rose to 8.5 percent from 7.2 percent in November. That compares to 7.8 percent in December 1995.
The rates across North Idaho remain substantially higher than the rest of Idaho and the nation. Idaho’s rate rose to 5.3 percent from 5 percent in November, while the nation’s rate remained the same at 5.3 percent.
Selected rates for other Panhandle counties compared with November: Benewah, up to 11.7 percent from 10.6 percent; Bonner, up to 10.6 percent from 9.5 percent; Boundary, up to 9.6 percent from 8.4 percent; and Shoshone, up to 10.8 percent from 9.5 percent.