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Kootenai County’s jobless rate 6 percent

Neighboring counties higher; state at 6.2

Kootenai County’s unemployment rate fell to 6 percent last month. That is nearly as low as in summer 2008, when the Great Recession was beginning to grip the Northwest.

The February rate dropped from 6.4 percent in January and was nearly 2 percentage points lower than one year ago.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.2 percent in February, the lowest rate since December 2008, the Idaho Department of Labor said today.

While employers in most private-sector industries hired more workers than usual for the month, total employment in the state fell by 400, department spokesman Bob Fick said.

Still, total employment remained over 725,000 – the level it was at in spring 2008 right after the recession began.

State analysts suspect more workers may be abandoning self-employment to take more traditional jobs covered by the state’s unemployment insurance system, or an increasing number may be taking on second jobs.

The jobless rate fell last month across North Idaho but remains higher than Kootenai County. The February rate was 8.2 percent in Bonner County, 8.5 percent in Boundary County, 9.9 percent in Shoshone County and 10 percent in Benewah County.

Some of the lowest unemployment rates in Idaho can be found in the Moscow and Lewiston areas. The rate last month was 5 percent in Latah County, 4.8 percent in Nez Perce County and 3.9 percent in Lewis County.

Lewiston had the lowest rate, at 4.6 percent, of the 10 largest cities in Idaho last month. Coeur d’Alene was at 6.5 percent in February, and Post Falls was at 6.6 percent.