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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Idaho unemployment notches up again

Idaho's unemployment rate has notched up again, this time by a tenth of a percentage point to 9 percent, the highest since June of 1983. The U.S. Department of Labor today revised Idaho's October rate up from the Nov. 6 forecast, based on additional data; a record 67,800 Idahoans are now jobless, with the state's total employment dropping below 686,000 for the first time since February of 2005. Click below to read the full news release from the Idaho Department of Labor.


For Immediate Release
Nov. 18, 2009

Idaho Jobless Rate Hits 9 Percent

October’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 9 percent in Idaho for the first time since the aftermath of the double dip recessions in the early 1980s.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday revised Idaho’s October rate upward by a tenth of a percentage point from the forecast rate on Nov. 6. Based on additional statistical information, the government found that not only did the 1,000 new entrants into the labor force fail to find work but over 600 who had jobs in September did not work in October.

That drove the number of workers without jobs in October to a record 67,800 as total employment dropped below 686,000 for the first time since February 2005.

The last time Idaho’s unemployment rate was 9 percent was in June 1983.

The rapid and severe impact on Idaho of the recession that began in December 2007 pushed payment of unemployment insurance benefits to an unprecedented level in 2009. Through mid-November the state paid a record $558 million in state and federal unemployment benefits to over 100,000 claimants. The old record was $247 million in 2008.

That has drained the Idaho Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and required the state to borrow $75.2 million so far from the federal government to continue state benefit payments. Twenty-three other states and the Virgin Islands have borrowed another $20 billion, and Idaho expects to borrow another $125 million over the next 15 months.

Because of the record benefit demand that has drained the trust fund, the unemployment insurance tax rates for Idaho employers will more than double in 2010 and likely remain at that level for the following two years. State law calculates the rates. That law is also reducing the maximum weekly benefit a jobless worker can receive from $362 this year to $334 next, which translates into a reduction of more than $18 million in benefit payments in 2010.


Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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