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Jobless rate falls across Idaho in July

Idaho’s unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent in July, a three-year low. It’s down from 7.7 percent in June, the Idaho Department of Labor said today.

In Kootenai County, the jobless rate in July fell four-tenths of a point, to 9.2 percent.

The rate also fell in surrounding counties. Unemployment last month was 13 percent in Benewah County, 12 percent in Shoshone County, 11 percent in Bonner County and 10.9 percent in Boundary County, the state reported.

Idaho public schools and colleges issued normal summer layoff notices while private employers maintained payrolls slightly higher than the average for the past five years, the Labor Department noted. That resulted in a decline in nonfarm jobs from June to July of only about half the seasonal average of 3,200.

A combination of lower employment and an even greater drop in the labor force resulted in the lower unemployment rate in July, labor official explained.

The statewide labor force – those at work and those looking for work – saw a decrease for the second straight month, from a record 782,000 in May.

The contraction was accompanied by a drop in total employment of about 1,500 workers, breaking a string of 12 months of rising employment. Statewide employment hit a four-year high of 722,000 in June.

Idaho’s jobless rate hit a post-recession high of 8.9 percent in July 2011.

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