Idaho unemployment rate falls to three-year low
Drop in labor force a key factor
Idaho’s unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent in July, a three-year low. That’s down from 7.7 percent in June, the Idaho Department of Labor reported Friday.
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 decline of 3,200.
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.
Lower employment and the even greater drop in the labor force resulted in the lower unemployment rate in July, labor officials explained.
Idaho’s jobless rate hit a post-recession high of 8.9 percent in July 2011.