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Idaho jobless rate below 7 percent

Idaho’s unemployment rate continued to fall in November, dropping below 7 percent for the first time in 3  1/2 years as employers maintained payrolls at a stronger pace than normal for the month.

In North Idaho, where joblessness has remained higher than the statewide average, the seasonally adjusted rate fell in every county last month. It stood at 8.1 percent in Kootenai County, which is down from almost 10 percent a year ago, the Idaho Department of Labor reported Friday.

Statewide, unemployment fell two-tenths of a percentage point in November, to 6.8 percent. The post-recession high was 8.9 percent in July 2011.

About 14,000 more people were working in Idaho last month than in November 2011. The new hires were almost exclusively for filling vacancies created by firings, retirements or other reasons, businesses reported.

The number of workers without jobs stands at 52,400. More than 300 workers dropped out of the labor force in November, continuing a trend of contraction, officials said. Since last spring, the state has lost almost 7,500 workers, the largest continuous erosion of its labor force since 9,100 dropped out over eight months at the end of 2008 and the start of 2009.